Gerry O'Connor

Myraid

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Some call Gerry O'Connor the best tenor banjo player in the history of Irish music. Listen to the lead track on his solo debut -- a romp through the reels "Trip to Durrow," "Tom Ward's Downfall" and "Shearing the Sheep," all taken at thrill-ride tempos, and you may well agree. Not only is his playing heart-stoppingly fast, but it's informed by a unique approach to the triplet patterns that distinguish Irish banjo playing from other styles, and a cross-picking technique that would make Jesse McReynolds green with envy. This album shows him to be in complete control of the ancient traditions, but also willing to experiment with electric instruments (as on "Red Hill Burning" and the bluegrass-influenced "Classical Grass"). That combination of virtuosity, deeply rooted traditionalism and forward-looking artistry combine to make this one of the best albums of Irish music in recent years.

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