Ensemble Eriu blew apart and then meticulously reconstructed my understanding of jazz and traditional Irish music genres this Thursday at NUI Galway’s Arts Alive lunchtime concert series. I’m not an expert in either genre, and was required to attend the concert for a class but I am now a happy convert to Eriu’s musical world.
Without introduction, the seven-part ensemble launched an hour of seamlessly coordinated trad tunes laced with improvisational flows and syncopated beats of great jazz. The conertina and fiddle kept the steady runs and reels at the heart of the tunes while electric guitar, stand up bass, clarient, drums, and mirimba fluttered around the melody creating a sound that enveloped everyone in the room.
The septet is led by Jack Talty and Neil O’Loghlen and performs in the musical style of West and North County Clare. I was especially struck by the way each musician had a distinct and purposeful presence in the space of each tune. There were moments of suspense when I felt like the entire ensemble would fall apart in chaos. But then one ensemble member would swoop in to restore a tenuous order and the beat would roll on. I wanted to follow them to their second show that night, and was only stopped by my lack of access to a car! In all, it was a great performance and I would recommend them to anyone ready for a genre-blending adventure.
You can learn more about Ensemble Eriu and listen to their tunes on their website.
Also, here’s a picture of the sunset tonight over the bay. With swans. Just because it was uncannily beautiful and swans are bold creatures.