Dennis Cahill / Martin Hayes

Live in Seattle

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The live context often tends to exaggerate a musician's natural inclinations -- punk bands play louder and faster, reggae bands crank up the bass an extra notch or two, Irish musicians thrown in wilder ornaments and wind the tempo up a bit. For fiddler Martin Hayes, whose natural tendency is to play in a stately, decorous style that shows off the tune to maximum advantage and minimizes "look at me!" pyrotechnics, the stage is a place to play even more gently and sweetly than he does in the studio. On the other hand, the relative looseness of the live context gives guitarist Dennis Cahill the chance to step out a bit more than he does with Hayes in the studio, and that works very nicely too. This program's centerpiece is an almost 30-minute set of reels and dances that includes the achingly beautiful "Kilnamona Barndance" (taken even more slowly here than on Hayes' debut album), the standard "Rakish Paddy," and a delightful adaptation of Pachelbel's Canon in D minor. Although you might expect fiddle and guitar to sound lonesome and stark without other instruments, Hayes plays with such a sweet tone and Cahill is such a skilled accompanist that the two of them manage to fill the room quite nicely. Highly recommended.

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