Waves of Rush
(Lochshore, 1999)

Tabache is a duo, consisting of fiddler Aidan O'Rourke and fiddler/flautist/vocalist Claire Mann. Remember these names, for I predict you will be hearing of them again in the future. This Celtic duo displays a gentle sensitivity rarely found in youth, and a clarity and skill to match. Their arrangements are crisp and open, allowing the music to speak for itself, without a lot of heavy accompaniment to overshadow the melody lines. Incorporating a well-chosen array of accompanying instruments, including guitar, bouzouki, keyboards and border pipes, the duo expands to trio and quartet for many of the tracks, each with its own unique sound. The pair have a clear connection with each other, blending their tones together beautifully, whether as a fiddle duo, flute and fiddle, or vocals and fiddle.

I particularly like the fiddle and flute duets, which soar on waves of perfectly synchronized melody, splitting from time to time, to complement one another in well-planned harmonies. Evocative solos by both O'Rourke and Mann keep the sound fresh and new. And, just when you think the fiddle and flute sound is growing tired, Mann raises her gentle voice in song, adding a new dimension to the recording. As in her fluting and fiddling, her voice blossoms with potential, promising to develop into something truly memorable with a bit of further training. Particularly lyrical and uplifting is her version of "Helen of Kirkconnel."

O'Rourke shows great maturity in his ability to harmonize with the vocal passages with grace, laying back to allow Mann's voice to take center stage. Besides his obvious instrumental talents, he promises to be an outstanding composer. His original reels, in particular, sparkle with exotic rhythms and memorable cadences. I particularly like the title tune "Waves of Rush" and his off-beat "The Slovenian Chicken."

Many of the other tunes on the recording are relatively contemporary, having come from the last century or so, including tunes by J. Scott Skinner, James Murdoch Henderson, and Fred Morrison. Traditional tunes include "The Bay of Biscay," "The Blacksmith's Reel," "Nelly Mahony's," and "The Newry Highwayman." The duo has chosen to combine tunes in some unusual sets, including a set of slides and slip jigs, and a set of reels and jigs together. The arrangements have a bit of a contemporary flair, without being avant-garde, or straying away from their traditional background.

In short, this is a highly enjoyable set of tunes played by a very talented duo. It lacks the vision and maturity of a recording by someone of the caliber of Alasdair Fraser or Martin Hayes, nevertheless it is filled with the promise of good things to come. If you are a Celtic fiddle fan, this is well worth adding to your collection.

[ by Jo Morrison ]

Buy Waves of Rush from