FIERCE TRADITIONAL is the latest and long awaited album from Ireland's most celebrated fiddle player Frankie Gavin. The album was launched in Galway's newest hotel and premier music venue, the Radisson SAS Lough Atalia Hotel, during this year's Galway Arts Festival. A concert with special guest appearances took place to mark this memorable event, on Wed. July 25th, in the hotel's spacious 'Inis Mor Ballroom'.The album title 'FIERCE TRADITIONAL' is a term frequently used in Irish music circles, and one that positively defines what the album is all about. For Frankie, it is without doubt a 'back to the roots' style recording, featuring an abundance of Reels, Jigs, Hornpipes and Slow Airs. The album promises over one hour of the liveliest heart warming and soulful performances of traditional Irish music recorded in many years.
Appearing on this new album together with Frankie are Brian McGrath on piano and banjo (a world class performed on both instruments), De Dannan bouzouki player Alec Finn, and the album also introduces Frankie's brother, Sean Gavin on accordion for his debut commercial recording.
The new album from this brilliant and gifted musician will undoubtedly prove to be a traditional Irish music classic.
REVIEWS"Frankie Gavin is one of the finest fiddlers of the early 20th century, no mean achievement for a man who wasn't even born until 1956. To compensate for not getting born in time, Frankie has led a small but significant movement to recreate the style and sound of Irish music from early recordings. Frankie Gavin and De Dannan, John Carty and At The Racket, and one or two others, have brought the music of Michael Coleman, James Morrison, Patsy Touhey and others back to life in recent years, helped by the sterling work of archivists and restorers of old recordings. This new recording is unsurpassed in both technical and artistic merit. The sleeve notes give detailed information on written sources and early performances, and most of the generous eighteen tracks have that crisp, no-nonsense flamboyance associated with the early recording stars of Irish music.
There are some modern touches, of course. Gone are the crackles and pops of the old 78s, and the tunes needn't be played at breakneck speed because nowadays the wire won't run out in a hurry. There's also a greater depth of tone: today's musicians may have the benefit of better instruments or better maintenance, or the difference may all be due to the ravages of time. It would be fascinating to compare this CD with a pristine recording from the 1930s, or even a recording of Morrison or Coleman made with today's technology: perhaps their tone would be as good or even better.
In 56 minutes (one for every year Frankie missed of the 20th century), "Fierce Traditional" reworks some of the most well-known and oft- recorded tunes in Irish history: "The Foxhunter's", "The Flogging", "The Mason's Apron", "The Wheels of the World", "Lucy Campbell", "Jenny Picking Cockles", and that's just the reels. There's no elaborate modern production, just Frankie with Brian McGrath (piano and banjos), familiar sideman Alec Finn (bouzouki), and brother Sean Gavin on the button box. There's a bit of double-tracking to get Frankie's flute and fiddle onto some tracks, but that's as fancy as it gets. And the results are magnificent: the dance music is full of vigour, the slow airs are bittersweet like the memories they represent, and it's all as fresh as if it had never been heard before - even "The Mason's Apron"! "
Alex Monaghan - The Living Tradition
"Frankie Gavin is, of course, the great
Galway fiddler of De Dannan fame and the classic 'Frankie Goes to
Town'. In recent years Frankie has not been as prominent on the
traditional scene, too busy, I guess, recording with the Rolling
Stones and such. 'Fierce Traditional, reasserts his claim to being
a top fiddler with a distinctive style. Classic Gavin, to my mind,
is fast bouncy, rhythmically aggressive and technically complex.
The opening cut 'Man of the House' into the 'Providence' is exactly
that; fast and virtuosie. But much of the album shows a mellower
side of Gavin and on the laid-back version of 'Lucy Campbell' (for
me the gem of the album), Frankie maintains his crisp execution
of bowing and ornamentation while giving the tune more space. Tune-hounds
will want to note that for 'Lucy Campbell' Frankie has the fiddle
tuned down to Bb (Eb-Bb-F-C) and that for the rest of the album
he is tuned to Eb (Ab-Eb-Bb-F). Much of the album emphasizes the
lower end of the fiddle, giving the album textural contrast between
the fast bouncy stuff and the mellower cuts.
As a reviewer, I see part of my role to be a comparison, fiddler x, whom you haven't heard, is like fiddler y, so if you like y you should listen to x... that kind of thing. But Frankie Gavin is himself, the kind of fellow to whom you compare others. Frankie himself attributes much of his inspiration to the musicians and recordings of the '20's; James Morrison, Coleman, the Flanagan Brothers. In making this album he was consciously returning to those touchstones and seeking to offer an alternative to what he sees as the 'trendy', nouveau trad recordings so prevalent today. Other musicians are Brian McGrath, Alec Finn and Sean Gavin, Frankie's brother, on accordion, but the album is all Frankie."
Brendan Taaffe - The Fiddle Magazine
"De Danann's big daddy's been shuffling
around the dancefloor and shimmying round the dresser for long enough
(fiddling with Beatles and Beach Boys toons, to name but a few).
Fierce Traditional is Gavin back at base, inhaling deep of the tradition
and basking in its glories. Old time tunes fuelled by little more
than piano and fiddle (with the occasional bouzouki, flute and accordion,
the latter from Gavin's brother Seán) call the shots. Lucy Campbell
and The Mystery Reel are irrepressible calling cards: Gavin in top
gear, yet in uncharacteristically sanguine form. No attention seeking
antics here. Just damn fine tunes from a damn fine player."
Siobhán Long - The Irish Times
"Innovation may be the buzz-word in Traditional
music, but Frankie Gavin's digressions are not in the common areas
of tempo and superficial style-impressions. His contemporary borrowings
of art-deco and music-hall Irishness are re-jigged in original avenues
of exploration. His dextrous treatment of troublesome tunes might
get even the Pope out on the floor, his orchestration could break
hearts. A superbly uncompromising player, he makes refreshment of
the old by picking out and polishing every detail and setting it
off in a steady, listenable pace. Gavin edgy and brilliant on both
fiddle and flute, with always the most meticulous attention given
to tone and variation. Live, his tune sets are perfectionism that
drive and are driven by an audience spontaneity that spurs Gavin
to push fiddle from shriek to rasping bass. Tears and cheers erupt
spontaneously, the goodwill of his mixed-age audiences has always
been great sauce. Like herding the mythic creac, Frankie Gavin here
whoops a great retrospective before him into the Ogham of Celtic
Fintan Vallely, Sunday Tribune
"The title of this album says it all
Fierce Traditional and it's no surprise to find the contents are
straight up traditional music. Frankie Gavin’s musical heart is
obviously in the Irish music of 1900’s America when Coleman, Killoran
and Morrison trod the boards in New York and elsewhere. Fierce Traditional
his latest solo album continues the trend began on Frankie Goes
to Town of a fiddle album with minimal accompaniment – this is an
old fashioned traditional Irish album of the pure drop kind. The
tunes are either well known such of The Man of the House, Jenny
Picking Cockles, maid of Mount Kisco, variety which have lasted
longer than most and some classic slow airs like Slaibh Na mBan
and She lived beside the Anner, exhibiting his flute playing and
the latter’s almost baroque style arrangement. Accompaniment is
provided by Brian McGrath on piano and banjo, Alec Finn on bouzouki
and Frankie’s brother Sean Gavin on accordion making a rarely recorded
appearance on Flogging Reel and they add necessary light and shade.
However it's Frankie Gavin’s playing as lively and inventive as
ever that seals Fierce Traditional‘s fate as a top notch traditional
collection. It’s both fierce and traditional so who says you can’t
have it both ways?"
John O'Regan - Irish Music Magazine
"This is only the third solo recording in
the long career of Frankie Gavin, the County Galway fiddle virtuoso
who has fronted the traditional music supergroup De Dannan since
the 1970's. Gavin's lesser-known talent as a flute player is also
represented on this disc, which includes bouzouki accompaniment
from Alec Finn, the only other founding still with De Dannan. County
Fermanagh man Brian McGrath, a more recent recruit to band, provides
both piano backing and some sparkling tenor banjo playing on tracks
that recreate the wild energy of music recorded on 78rpm discs in
New York by emigrant Irish musicians in the 1920's. Gavin's brother
Sean, an All-Ireland button accordion champion in his own right,
is heard on some sprightly duet selections"
Don Meade - Irish America Feb/Mar 2002