Reviewed by Cindy Reich, Celtic Connection, August, 2007 Kevin Burke needs no introduction to Irish music lovers. His fiddle playing is unparalleled. Although born in London, Kevin was influenced by the fiddle playing of Michael Coleman and James Morrison among others, through his parents who came from Sligo. As a member of the Bothy Band, Kevin was part of one of the great seminal bands of the folk/trad revival, and as such, influenced scores of future musicians. He has also been a part of the group Patrick Street and the Celtic Fiddle Festival, but he has always shone the brightest, to me, when he played with Micheal O Domhnaill or Jackie Daly. The late Micheal O Domhnaill was a master of the guitar and Daly is the same on the button accordion. I truly think that only musicians of that caliber were able to understand and allow Burke”s nuances to do justice to the tunes they played. This is not to take away Kevin”s band work, however, many times less is more. In Kevin”s latest release, he has returned to the spare feel of those early recordings. “Across the Black River” with Cal Scott is a must have for anyone interested in hearing a master at work. A great example is a cut that just jumped out at me, “Minnie Foster/The Forgotten Chateau”. The first title piece was learned from Andy McGann on Kevin”s first trip to the U.S. and is playful, clean, crisp and superb. “The Forgotten Chateau” has a wonderful eastern European feel to it, despite being written by Londoner Chris Twigg. Another standout track is “Evening Prayer Blues” which is haunting and full of the high lonesome sound. It has a real turn of the century feel”I swear you could be sitting on the front porch of a cabin in the middle of any holler in the Blue Ridge Mountains! “For Johnny” is a tune written for the late Johnny Cunningham by his brother Phil. I”ve heard Phil play it on his accordion and its lovely, but Burke”s playing takes the heart right out of you. Johnny was a touring and playing companion of Burke”s on the Celtic Fiddle Festival circuit and this is a heartfelt tribute. Vincent Broderick was a great flute player from Loughrea, County Galway, and Kevin has paired up Broderick”s “Last Train from Loughrea” with his own composition, the title track “Across the Black Water”. Mike McGoldrick accompanies Burke and Scott on flute for this beautiful set. The first time I listened to this CD, when the third tune rolled off the speaker, I felt like I was sitting at a sidewalk caf” along the Seine in Paris. I never read liner notes until after I”ve listened to a CD, so I was delighted to read that when Kevin first heard the tune (a waltz) he immediately thought of a summer”s evening in a French sidewalk caf”. I could say that great minds think alike, however it is simply that this tune is so evocative of France, you couldn”t come up with any other conclusion! Kudos to Cal Scott for composing a great little waltz! Cal must be partial to waltzes, for he has another beauty on this release ” “The Lighthouse Keeper”s Waltz”. In addition to being a great composer, Cal is a lovely musician who is a perfect complement to Kevin”s playing and also produced this album. Mention must be made of the “Long Set” which lives up to its name at a meaty nine and a half minutes. The six reels that make up this set are: The Boys of the Lough/Master Crowley”s Reel/Sean sa Cheo/Reel of Rio/Ryan”s Dream/The Wind that Shakes the Barley. This is just hard-core straight ahead playing that is like a shot of heroin to a drug addict for serious listeners to Irish music. No glitter, no rocketing at the speed of light. Serious playing by serious musicians. Kevin and Cal are joined on this set by Johnny (box) Connolly on accordion and Phil Baker on double bass. Mighty stuff! For all true lovers of the music who want to hear a master at work, get your feet wet, cross the black river, the blue river, any and all rivers and get yourself a copy of Kevin Burke”s “Across the Black River”. This is destined to be one of the best of the crop of releases for 2007. You can check out more of Kevin”s music at: Cindy Reich is a contributing writer to “The Living Tradition”, Ayrshire, Scotland, “Irish Music Magazine”, Dublin, Ireland, and presents the radio music show, “The Long Acre” on Mondays, 1pm-3pm on 88.9 FM, KRFC ” Ft. Collins.

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