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...LIKE MAGIC CD COVER

...Like Magic

Reviews


Buy this album. It has great traditional Irish piping and fiddling on it - 40 tunes in all, mostly taking the form of really swinging pipes/fiddle duets by Bay Area ceoltoiri Denman on uilleann pipes and Dennehy on fiddle with ace rhythm support by Gerry O'Beirne and Christy O'Connell (guitars), Paul Machlis (keyboards), Kyle Thayer (octave mandolin), Kevin Powers (Bodhrán) and Piper Heisig and Séamus Finneran (percussion).

First sonic impressions? A scintillating recreation of the clean, tight, driving, rippling, soaring, absolutely sybaritic sound of the early Bothy Band (Keenan/Burke/Lunny) that instantly puts your head in the clouds and your feet on the floor.

Tunewise, there are good new compositions by Paddy O'Brien and Charlie Lennon, two lovely airs by Todd Denman (I'm With You and Looking Back), some snappy renditions of standards like Woman of the House, Bag of Spuds, Sporting Paddy, Butcher's March, Limestone Rock, Maude Miller, Liffey Banks, Kit O'Mahony's Jig and a dandy polka medley from the playing of fiddler Matt Cranitch.

Buy this album. It belongs in every traditional Irish music collection, and it will make you happy from first note to last.

- L.E. McCullough, Iris na bPíobairí


...Like Magic is the first release of the new San Francisco label Aniar Records. Their mission is to release the best music from the current crop of Celtic musicians and they couldn't have gotten off to a better start than with this CD from uilleann piper Todd Denman and fiddler Bill Dennehy. They play Irish music with a passion and intelligence that honors tradition but doesn't embalm it. This CD is a mix of bright and lively dance tunes with slow airs. Denman's version of Lagan Love, a duet with pianist Paul Machlis, is a moving example of the uilleann pipes' ability to imbue a slow, simple melody with a mysterious grandeur.

But this is not Todd Denman's solo show by any means. The fiddle and the pipes sound wonderful when played together, and Dennehy and Denman know how to take these two famously difficult instruments and make them sing some fine duets. As they take turns playing jigs and reels and then play in unison you can hear the strings and reeds become one instrument. Dennehy's fiddling is superb. He has a smooth style and even on the quickest passages his playing is articulate with good intonation.

They are helped along by some fine backing musicians including Gerry O'Beirne and Christy O'Connell on guitar, Kyle Thayer on octave mandolin. Kevin Powers on Bodhrán, and Piper Heisig and Séamus Finneran on percussion. The accompaniment is understated and always supports the melodies without overpowering them. I enjoyed this CD very much and I am looking forward to future releases from Denman and Dennehy.

- Michael Simmons, Fiddler Magazine


Denman first heard the uilleann pipes on the radio while [preparing to leave for] college. While he does not remember the particular piper or ensemble he first heard, he does recall feeling "a recognition... I had never heard it before, but I thought, this is my music'."

Denman ordered his first set of pipes through the mail, and began the struggle of learning to play an instrument he had never seen played before.

In Ireland, it is said that it takes seven years to learn the uilleann pipes, seven years to practice, and seven years to play. Denman reckons that adage is "very accurate." Having started playing in 1980, Denman would be in his "third seven."

Along the way he has become a very skillful and receptive interpreter of the instrument. He has studied piping here and abroad, and earned a National Endowment for the Arts Award. Denman has also served as President of the San Francisco Pipers Club.

Bill Dennehy was raised in Irish music; his father played Kerry-style accordion. As a child he didn't like the sound at all; yet hearing the playing of Tommy Peoples at the age of 16 inspired him to take up the fiddle. Dennehy is one of the co-founders of the San Francisco Irish Fiddle Club.

Todd and Bill first started playing together around twelve years ago when Denman first came to the Bay Area. They left off when Denman went to Europe to study. Upon his return, the pair began playing together incessantly. It is then that they recorded ...Like Magic.

The album is beautifully played. It holds a good variety of dance tunes (jigs, reels, polkas and slow airs), both traditional and contemporary compositions. Denman plays with the sensitivity of a musician born to the instrument. Dennehy does the same.

The pair share leads, and create a very full sound even when it is only the two of them on a track. At times, they conjure up the magic of early Bothy Band recordings; if you close your eyes you just might see them slipping into the shoes of Paddy Keenan and Tommy Peoples. While many musicians find the studio an intimidating environment, Denman actually composed the two airs ("I'm With You" and "Looking Back") in the studio.

- Maureen Brennan, The San Francisco Gael, California's Brightest Irish Newspaper


Paddy Glackin & Robbie Hannan
The Whirlwind
Shanachie

Todd Denman & Bill Dennehy
...Like Magic
Aniar

Here are two good traditional releases of uilleann pipe/fiddle duets, one hailing from Ireland and the other from America.

Born in Dublin, Paddy Glackin is one of Ireland's finest fiddlers. On this release he is joined by Robbie Hannan, of County Down, who took up the uilleann pipes after being inspired by the playing of Liam O'Flynn and Paddy Maloney. Glackin's playing is precise, and Hannan shows a good mastery of the pipes, including a couple of real workouts on the regulators.

Glackin and Hannan play in the Donegal style, and "The Whirlwind" features 11 duets and a couple of solos for each of them, underscoring their individual talents. The release is straight, unadorned, masterful traditional playing, with just the pipes and fiddle.

The CD from Todd Denman and Bill Dennehy also features Irish traditional material. It has the sound of a session, and Denman and Dennehy claimed that they weren't sure what was coming when the tape started rolling. Nevertheless, it sounds very tight, and is helped along by some fine backing musicians (such as Gerry O'Beirne on guitars and Paul Machlis on piano). The rhythm backing gives extra power and lift to the fiddle and pipes, as in "Woman of the House/The New Mown Meadow/The Bag of Spuds" on the first set.

They show a good command of the slower pieces as well, such as on the lament "Lagan Love," with fine tonal shadings from Denman on the pipes. And they provide some fine treatments of classic session numbers such as "Con Cassidy's," "the Foxhunter's jig" and "The Blackbird [Reel]."

- Ivan Emke, Dirty Linen (Corner Brook, NF, Canada)


...Like Magic. An Excellent adventure. With that mighty combination, the fiddle and pipes, Bill Dennehy and Todd Denman strike a tasty balance between the traditional and the contemporary; much of the latter being provided by the angelic groove-meister Gerry O'Beirne on guitar.

- Cait Reed, Irish News and Entertainment


From the Pacific coast of America are two musicians, Todd Denham and Bill Dennehy, who have taken time and effort to learn their craft and put out a very good album of Irish Traditional music that has a feel of the "Bothy Band" with its core instruments of Uilleann pipes, Fiddle [guitar, bouzouki] and keyboards. Todd Denham has obviously listened hard to Paddy Keenan's piping which is obviously a major influence, but I suspect he is developing his own style here and there, noticeable when he plays My Lagan Love on the flat pitched pipes - not a common tune on the instrument, with its strange modulations. The album was made with the aim of a spontaneous session in the studio, not a bad idea and it came off on this occasion. An enjoyable album.

- Joe Crane, Folk Roots


Ever since the Irish super group The Bothy Band and the pairing of Paddy Keenan and Tommy Peoples the interweaving sound of the Uillean pipes and fiddle has fascinated me. Few albums have been able to capture the energy and drive that those early Bothy Band recordings achieved. Piper Todd Denman and fiddler Bill Dennehy have reawakened much of that initial excitement I remember upon hearing the wild melodious strains of fiddle and uillean pipes together. Based in the San Francisco area Denman and Dennehy have been playing with each other informally for a number of years. Like Magic, an all instrumental recording, is their first together. While the playing of Denman and Dennehy is top notch the guitar work of Gerry O'Beirne is the icing on the cake which propels the recording to another level. In my mind the fiddle and uillean pipes embody Irish music and it isn't often enough you get a chance to hear them both on one recording, especially not on one of this quality.

- Cliff McGann, Celtic Heritage

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