Consider the Source le Brian Conway ag #2 ar Liosta Ceol Traidisiúnta 2008 ag Earle Hitchner.
Choosing between this second solo album by fiddler Brian Conway and the second solo album by Billy McComiskey for the top spot in this list was unnervingly difficult. Both are outstanding, and what makes the selection even more vexing is that this solo CD by Conwayis better than his first, "First Through the Gate," which was the Irish Echo's No. 1 trad album of 2002. Born in the Bronx and now living in White Plains, N.Y., he performs here with more detail, subtlety, playfulness, and punch. Brian Conway has never been more comfortable in his own musical skin than on "Consider the Source," to which I contributed an essay. The jigs "Keys to the Convent / The Knockawhinna / Teviot Bridge" trace the compact invention with which he climbs in register and then nimbly descends, all the while holding firm to the melodic spine. "Matt Hyland," sung by Dan Milner, and "Highland Mary," sung by Niamh Parsons, illustrate an oft-overlooked aspect of his fiddling art: skillfully nuanced support for singing. Joined by such guests as Billy McComiskey, Joanie Madden, and Brendan and Felix Dolan, Brian Conway gives us his finest musical achievement to date.
Brian Conway is considered the leading player in the Sligo-New York style of playing, and this, his second solo album, is described by Earle Hitchner in the introduction as ‘a striking document of his evolving virtuosity, musicality and the inspiration and pleasure that come from playing such a responsive instrument for the past six years.' The instrument in question is a Degani violin purchased by Conway six years ago which he feels has had a huge influence on his playing. He also appreciates the development in his playing over the years: ‘I think my playing has gotten better with age. There's more fun and energy in my fiddling. I also have these excellent students, and working and playing with them has improved my techniques and made me examine more closely the structure of a tune and the relationship between bowing and phrasing.'
Earle Hitchner says of the playing: ‘Brian brings to his music an enviable equilibrium of style, substance, taste, imagination and deference to the past'. This deference to the past is also reflected in the title of the album, Consider the Source, a reference to both the importance of the source of the music and also the style of playing which originated, of course, in Co. Sligo and was brought across the Atlantic by such musical greats as Michael Coleman and James Morrison.
The album includes a large selection of tunes as well as a slow air and two songs, sung by Dan Milner and Niamh Parsons respectively. Brian is accompanied on the album by Brendan Dolan, Joanie Madden, Billy McComiskey, Felix Dolan, John Nolan, Eamon O'Leary, Heather Martin Bixler, Gabe Donohue and Brad Albetta.