The EastWind album (TARACD 3027)
by Andy Irvine & Davy Spillane is a complex interaction of Celtic
Musicians and instruments with World Music rhythms which was revolutionary
at the time of recording. Subsequently, this album has been acknowledged
as one of the key building blocks to the current Riverdance sound.
has justifiably been described as the precursor album to Riverdance.
However it has to be said that the idea of combining Eastern European
music (Bulgarian-Macedonian-Balkan) with Irish and Celtic musicians
and instruments has been the idea of Andy Irvines since he
first visited these countries in the late 60s. The music had
such impact and influence on Andy that he returned to Ireland with
new musical ideas soon to be introduced and played by the ground
breaking band Planxty of which he was a founder member. This innovative
music had an immediate and positive audience response and thus found
its way on to virtually all the Planxty recordings.
Although a much discussed project over many years
it was not until the early 90s that the album was finally
recorded. Bill Whelan was the Producer and Arranger. The multi-instrumentalist
Nikola Parov contributed to the Bulgarian element together with
Marta Sebestyen (of Muzsikas fame) giving her wonderful vocal talent
to the project. The lead Irish players featured Davy Spillane, Máirtín
OConnor and of course Andy Irvine who had the vision to bring
the EastWind project to fruition.
The influence of this recording was profound. It was no coincidence
that the intricate time signatures and influences of this music were
to reappear in Riverdance whose Composer and Producer was again Bill
Whelan. Both the Riverdance recording and show featured the EastWind
musicians Davy Spillane, Nikola Parov, Máirtín OConnor,
Noel Eccles & Kenneth Edge.
The title and the vaguely Oriental-looking cover of this CD might
make you think that you're looking at an album of Asian jazz fusion.
Fear not -- the East in this case is a lot further West, in the
Balkans. Though many Celtic musicians have been interested by the
exotic rhythms of Bulgarian and Macedonian music, this CD is one
of the only instances in which the fusion sounds both natural and
exciting. Davy Spillane's Irish pipes sound marvelous on parts originally
written for the more shrill Balkan bagpipes, and his playing here
is inventive and expressive enough to silence anyone who thinks
of the pipes as a limited instrument. The decision to invite Marta
Sebestyen as a guest vocalist was inspired; she is one of the great
interpreters and innovators of Eastern European music, and she shines
in this setting. The ensemble work throughout this album is stunning,
making for dynamic performances of spirited and emotional material.
Kudos to Andy Irvine for making these sessions happen, and to everyone
concerned for making them sound so good. Highly recommended. --
Richard Foss All Music Guide
heard of folk-rock and jazz-fusions. Well this is folk-folk, the
elements being Irish and Balkan musics. Interestingly, in Irish
music outside influences and instruments have always been introduced,
and have become part of the tradition - like the flute and the concertina.
Andy Irvine is credited with importing the bazouki to Irish music,
and it's now a common Irish 'traditional' instrument. The project
is a difficult one to bring off because the Bulgarian rhythms are
extremely odd to Celtic folk singers. Other attempts at this kind
of thing have sounded stilted and stiff, as the musicians hang on
grimly, counting like mad to make sure they keep the rhythm going.
But here they all make it sound so smooth and natural. There are
Eastern European guests who make it sound authentic, but the Irish
are not hiding behind them. The end result is something which sounds
Balkan and Irish at the same time - and to my ears that's very attractive
Ken Hyder - Hi-Fi News & Record Review (Sept '92)