Jeremiah McLane
& Ruthie Dornfeld,
(self-produced, 2002)

Hummingbird is a study in the arts of keyboarding and fiddling! Jeremiah McLane is an accomplished keyboardist, playing the accordion, piano and Hammond B3 organ. Ruthie Dornfeld can work a fiddle over with the best of the old-timers. When they come together, something magical happens. It seems as if they are joined at the minds and the fingers, producing exactly the right note at the precise time it's needed. Whether they are playing a duet with the lead or harmonizing opposing parts, they are fantastic! They demonstrate the ability to play across any range of speed, rhythm or tone with this recording.

The photos on the Hummingbird cover show the pair laughing and smiling as if they are having the time of their lives. That is the impression you get from their music, too. You sense that for these two, playing is the greatest joy in the world. When musicians enjoy their playing with that type of sense of fun, it comes through in the performance. This collection is beautiful and will get you moving. The happiness is contagious.

McLane and Dornfeld promoted Hummingbird as ideal for a Cajun two-step. That prompted me to ask to review it. I wanted to know if they lived up to their promotional advertising and anxiously awaited the arrival of the CD. Fate arranged to deliver the CD in the afternoon before my scheduled date with a German from the old country. I was able to get my date's thoughts on the dance appeal of the CD. His first reaction was "Gypsy music," while I thought it more appropriate for a merry-go-round. The first tune was our least favorite.

While we readily agreed that we had a blast dancing to it, we disagreed on our favorites. Erik liked the slower pieces. His pick for dancing was "Lullaby," with "Gennetines" and "Passage" tying in second. I like to spin and enjoy a faster beat. I preferred "Parade," followed by "Hannuland," which mixes the tempo for combination dancing and lets you get really creative. The abrupt ending will throw you. But I have to agree that "Lullaby" is the perfect tune for snuggle-dancing and I enjoyed it tremendously!

I loved "Russian Reel" and was thoroughly enjoying dancing to it. When I asked Erik what he thought, he replied: "I am waiting for the Roadrunner and Coyote to speed past." Asked if that was bad, he replied: "Oh, no. I do like fast music."

The one tune that really stood out for both of us was "Leatherfest." This is an unusual piece with strange but wonderful keyboarding. The keyboarding sets a mysterious tone for the piece. We listened to it three times while trying to figure out how to describe it. You just have to hear it to comprehend. It seems multi-dimensional and is somehow different each time you listen to it. It is enchanting and became the favorite for both of us.

If you liked the Cajun gathering scene in Southern Comfort, you will love this CD. If you are not familiar with that classic Cajun scene, buy that movie and this CD. Both are treasures to possess! As testament to the power of this CD, Erik is ordering his own copy to take with him to work.

- Rambles
written by Alicia Karen Elkins
published 26 April 2003

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