The fiddle is an instrument that has a long and fascinating history. For centuries, it has played a major role in the traditional Scandinavian folk of Sweden and Norway as well as the Celtic traditions of Ireland, Scotland, and Brittany. Scandinavian music was a major influence on Celtic music, when Scandinavian Vikings invaded the British Isles many centuries ago, they left their mark musically. And when Irish and Scottish immigrants moved to the U.S., they brought their fiddles with them and helped pave the way for bluegrass and country. A native of Ireland, Manus McGuire is well aware of the fiddle's rich history and made his mark playing the instrument with the Irish groups Moving Cloud and Buttons & Bows. Saffron and Blue, which was recorded in February 2000, is his first solo album. Essentially, this charming collection of instrumental jigs, reels, airs, and waltzes falls into the Irish/Celtic category. But McGuire also has a strong appreciation of Scotland's contributions to Celtic music, and Scottish influences are prominent on parts of the album. The Irishman is also a big admirer of French-Canadian/Quebecois fiddle playing -- he lived in Eastern Canada for a year -- and Saffron & Blue occasionally finds him bringing French-Canadian elements to his Irish/Celtic foundation. With this solid and memorable album, McGuire begins his solo career on a very attractive note.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson