Tommy Guihen has been making music since players in ceilidh bands wore ties and he is an acknowledged master of the North Connaught flute style – the same region that brought forth Matt Molloy. Tommy won the senior all-Ireland flute title in 1978 but for all his experience The Torn Jacket is his first solo album. The traditional Irish flute is a simple wooden instrument but, as you can see, Tommy plays a modern keyed version. It is still very different from the modern concert flute and the wooden body gives it a warm mellow tone.
The majority of the sets are reels or jigs, opening with the sparkling pairing of ‘The View Across The Valley’ and ‘Father Newman’s’ written by fellow flautist John Brady from the neighbouring county of Offaly. There are also two slow airs, a set of hornpipes and a rather lovely setting of ‘Eleanor Plunkett’ but it’s the bouncy dance tunes that are the Connaught style and Tommy’s forté. Accompanying Tommy are Mary Corcoran on piano and guitarist Paul Gurney although both are used sparingly – my views on the piano as an instrument for traditional music do not require restating.
A particularly fine set of reels is ‘Darby’s Farewell/Father O’Grady’s Trip To Bocca/Baltimore Salute’ written by another flute player, the late Josie McDermott, from Co. Roscommon in the heart of Connaught and Tommy frequently chooses music from composers who would have been friends and neighbours.
I appreciate that The Torn Jacket will appeal to a rather niche market but it’s good to groove along to.
Label website: www.cic.ie
‘The Navy On The Line/Fred Finn’s/Captain Kelly’ live: