Piper's Dream is the delightful new offering from Wyndfall, featuring Tom Reese on flute, pennywhistle and ocarinas, Chris Laughery on guitar, vocals and bamboo flute, Laurie Haines Reese on cello and Jeff Stabley on drums. It's a mix of classical, traditional and original pieces played with a Celtic jazz influence. The arrangements are simple and clean even though the sound is intricate, and the final result is definitely well produced. The subtitle of the CD is "music for fresh ears," which is certainly the case, since it's not exactly traditional Irish music.
Seven of the tunes are vocals, in various combinations of traditional lyrics and melodies ("Bold Doherty," "Back Home in Derry"), original lyrics for traditional melodies ("Garden of You" by Laughery, "Katy's Rambles" by Reese) and original lyrics with original melodies ("Winds of Desire," "Present," "Time to Go," all by Laughery), with Laughery lending his wistful tones to wistful tunes. His style is quiet and at the same time passionate, simultaneously commanding your attention, breaking your heart and lifting your spirit.
There is only one Tom Reese original instrumental (the title cut, "Piper's Dream"). It starts out as a hint of song, with Laurie playing a four-cello intro, followed quickly by a lively jig. On most of the rest of the instrumentals, we are treated to the jazz influence both he and Laurie perform effortlessly. Buried in the middle of the traditional folk tunes, there's the classical piece, "Prelude From Suite #1 in G Major for Solo Cello" by J.S. Bach, followed by "Fanfare" by Couperin. Fans of Tom's will be pleased that two signature "Reese's pieces" are also on this CD, "June Apple" and "Boggy Road/Johnny's Gone to France," showcasing his versatility on the pennywhistle.
My only concern is the playing of "Farewell to Whiskey." This is a very sad Scottish tune written in the 1700s by Neil Gow lamenting the prohibition on manufacturing whiskey due to a shortage of grain. Wyndfall plays it as a lively reel. Philistines! Only members of the Women's Temperance Union would think thusly. On the other hand, it's really hard not to tap your feet along to this rousing version, especially since between the first and last repeat of the melody, it sounds like an entirely different song. And, thankfully, the prohibition lasted only one year, so I guess there's no harm done.
There are extensive liner notes, including the words to the songs. Most of the traditional tunes are credited as being Irish, although several really are Scottish in origin ("Jacky Tar" and "Farewell to Whiskey") and one is an American traditional tune that has become quite popular in Ireland ("June Apple"). However, there's very little that's strictly traditional about the way the songs are played, making the subtitle more than accurate -- in fact, I'd say it's fresh music to refresh your ears.
[ by Alanna Berger ]