Johnny B. Connolly


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The solo debut from this fine 26-year-old Dublin accordionist is a joy from beginning to end. Born and raised in Dublin, Connolly was a member of Anam for several years before leaving to pursue his fortune in America; he is now based in Portland, OR, and performs mainly with guitarist Aidan Brennan. Brennan accompanies him on the majority of the tracks on this album, but he is also joined on several numbers by the great fiddler Kevin Burke and bouzouki player Jim Chapman. Connolly's playing is skillful and exciting, but never showy -- he focuses on the tunes themselves rather than on his own virtuosity, and the tempos are generally modest and the ornamentation minimal. It's an unusually mature approach, one that nicely showcases the intrinsic beauty of tunes like "Off to California," "The Reverend Brothers Jig," and the off-kilter Breton dance tune "Ton Doubl Fishl." Anyone who thinks of the accordion as an obnoxious wedding-party instrument should sit down and give this disc some serious attention.

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