GERRY O’CONNOR – Last Night’s Joy (Lugnasa LUGCD966)

Last Night's JoyGerry O’Connor is a fiddle player from Dundalk, not to be confused with Gerry O’Connor, the banjo player, who also appears on Last Night’s Joy, Gerry’s second solo album, notably on ‘Stereo Connor’. Google™, of course, does confuse them which makes life hard for us poor reviewers. There is a certain feeling of looking back about the record – I won’t call it nostalgia because it isn’t like that. It’s very much an acknowledgement of players who have preceded Gerry and the legacy they left.

The record kicks off with the title track, a jaunty set of reels. Individually they are ‘Andie Phaddie’s’, ‘Claude Finnegan’s’ and ‘Last Night’s Joy’ and their provenance is typical of Irish traditional music. All three came from Cathal McConnell at the last but Cathal learned them all from other players who got them from who knows where. ‘The Old Dash Churn’ is a set of double jigs of which the third, ‘The Torn Bag Apron’, sounds very familiar. The usual story obtains here: the tunes were collected forty years ago from players who were most active sixty years ago.

Gerry takes a break from the jigs and reels with ‘Bádal Na Scadain’, an air featuring Dónal O’Connor’s piano and moves into ‘The Hawk And The Hare’, a set featuring a jig and a polska written by nyckelharpa innovator Erik Sahlstrom. As you can tell, Gerry doesn’t restrict himself to Ireland – there are also tunes from Quebec, the USA and Cape Breton. As well as the three O’Connors already mentioned Last Night’s Joy also features accordionist Máirtín O’Connor which allows for the title of the final set, ‘O’Connor4’.

I sat down determined to concentrate on every note of the album but then I just wanted to look at Gerry’s biography and the next thing I knew it was finished. It’s that sort of record, one that will carry you away.

Dai Jeffries

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‘The Hawk And The Hare’ – Stereo Connor live: