- 30 Jul 19
Traditional Irish fiddler meets New York string quartet.
Irish fiddler Martin Hayes is no stranger to collaborations, having founded The Martin Hayes Quartet in 2017. His newest project sees him team up with New York string quartet Brooklyn Rider. The result is the collaborative album The Butterfly, set for release August 16th.
The album was actually recorded in 2016 and represents a celebration of a decade-long friendship between Hayes and Brooklyn Rider. Back in 2009, when they began joining forces, and this album marks the fiddlers first major collaboration outside the Irish tradition. The "journey into the unknown", as Hayes describes the beginning phase of the collaboration, now finally bears fruit.
For Martin Hayes, collaborating outside familiar territory is necessary to expand the traditional Irish repertoire: "Those who come from outside the tradition often hear something very different - they can hear what the sum total of these things amount to musically in a very objective way. Many of the major developments in Irish music have historically come through musical interaction with musicians from outside the tradition bringing with them new ideas and fresh energy. To collaborate, it's important not to compromise on what is fundamental and core, but it is also equally important to be flexible. One must surrender the desire to control the outcome and allow people you work with to make their choices with freedom."
Violinist and composer Colin Jacobsen notes that Martin was a musician Brooklyn Rider admired from afar for a long time: "In many ways, he represented to us something essential about music that we sometimes felt was missing within the classical training we were receiving back in school. To me, it is the infinitely varied inflections, and the depth of expression within what could seem like a deceptively simple tune, which make Martin a master storyteller with his instrument. Luckily, Martin was intrigued by the idea of what a string quartet could bring to traditional Irish music. Through the help of a number of brilliant arrangers who are fluent with both string quartet writing and Irish traditional music, such as Ljova, Dana Lyn and Kyle Sanna we found a framing for the tunes that feels true to some essential thing about both traditions."
In addition to featuring the premiere recording of 'Maghera Mountain', (written by Hayes as a teenager), The Butterfly sought to define a common ground through the inclusion of several of the most widely known tunes within the repertoire. About this choice, Martin says: "Many people regard these as throwaway tunes that were overplayed and are no longer taken very seriously. In reality, these are simple, profound and very beautiful melodies. Shining a new light on them with these new arrangements gives them a new life, allows people to clearly see what's beautiful about these tunes and what is unique about this collaboration."
See the complete tracklisting of The Butterfly below:
- Maghera Mountain (Martin Hayes, arr. by Kyle Sanna)
- O’Neill’s March (Traditional, arr. Colin Jacobsen)
- Jenny’s Welcome Home to Charlie (Traditional, arr. Kyle Sanna)
- The Butterfly (Traditional, arr. Colin Jacobsen)
- Bob and Bernie (Peadar Ó Riada, arr. Dana Lyn)
- Ship in Full Sail (Traditional, arr. Kyle Sanna)
- Drunken Sailor (Traditional, arr. Ljova)
- Mulqueen’s (Traditional, arr. Colin Jacobsen)
- Port Na bPúcaí (Traditional, arr. Nicholas Cords)
- An Rogaire Dubh (Traditional, arr. Kyle Sanna)
- P Joe's Reel (Traditional, arr. Colin Jacobsen)
- Hole in the Hedge (Traditional, arr. Dana Lyn)
Back in March of this year, Martin Hayes took to the stage at the National Concert Hall as part of his music group The Gloaming. Hot Press' Pat Carty called it a "transforming performance", "moving you to a state of joy".