Joe Burke

The Tailor's Choice

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Joe Burke is a somewhat unusual Irish flute player in that he favors a slow, stately delivery without excessive ornamentation or virtuosic display of any kind. His decorous playing style is nicely complemented on this album by the harp playing of Maire Ni Chathasaigh, who lends a shimmery backdrop to the proceedings rather than the rhythmic drive that generally comes from guitar accompaniment. As might be expected, Burke especially excels at slow airs, and in fact those are what make up almost half of the program here; "Bean Dubh An Gleanna" and the gorgeous "Blind Mary" are particular highlights. In fact, the rhythmic freedom of those elegant slow numbers informs everything else he plays, sometimes to unfortunate effect -- on the more uptempo numbers, Burke sometimes loses a bit of rhythmic control, as he does on "The Mills Are Grinding" and "The Tailor's Choice." His accordion playing is also not quite as compelling as his flute playing, and on his performance of the slow strathspey "The Dean Brig of Edinburgh," there's a sort of cavernous French tone to his instrument that sounds a little strange in this context. But luckily he spends most of the program on flute, and on the slow numbers that he plays with inimitable grace.

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