Joe Derrane

Grove Lane

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Playing the button accordion is one of those things you can do better than almost anyone on earth and still maintain a comfortable, reasonably private personal life. But although Boston-based accordion player Joe Derrane is far from famous among the general public, his name is spoken with something like reverence among his colleagues. Jackie Daly, one of the finest Irish button-accordion players in history, is reported to have been visibly shaken after watching Derrane play a show. "Did you see the hands on that man?," he reportedly asked. "I just don't know how he does it." Derrane was 80 years old when Grove Lane was released in 2010, having had that kind of impact on his fellow musicians in the Irish music scene for more than 50 years, and this excellent album offers not only an impressive display of his gifts of technique and taste, but also a thoroughly enjoyable overview of his unusually broad stylistic range. The program includes the reels and jigs one would expect (listen especially to the opening reel set, which features Derrane absolutely killing "The Slate Roof," "The Prayer Reel," and "Toss the Feathers," as well as some gorgeous guitar accompaniment from John McGann), but also finds him stretching out on a lovely schottische, an original tango (!), and a heartbreakingly lovely waltz written in tribute to his late wife. Derrane plays with dancers in mind: he swings his reels lightly and plays his hornpipes at a brisk tempo, which makes this album both useful and enjoyable.

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