Aniar Records On-Line
  New Celtic Music


A Garden of Butterflies
Jody's Heaven

Dale Russ: fiddle
Jack Gilder: concertina & flute
Junji Shirota: guitar & banjo

Crossroads Music Awards Winner

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"Garden of Butterflies is an awesomely good recording of Irish traditional music from a San Francisco trio who go by the quirky name of Jody's Heaven. Heavenly indeed. The sound created by Dale Russ's fiddle, Jack Gilder's concertina and flute and Junji Shirota's guitar and bouzouki is angelically beautiful. Garden of Butterflies is also solidly and tastefully traditional. No bass and drums, no "new age" noodling, no speed-burning showoffery -- just honest Irish music the way it ought to be played..."
- Don Meade, Irish Voice

"On to the American Celtic scene, which once again has come up with some nice goodies. The best of these this time out is Garden of Butterflies [Aniar ANR-104], an all-instrumental outing from the Bay area trad trio Jody's Heaven. The band is made up of fiddler Dale Russ (whose solo work and duets with [uilleann] piper Todd Denman have earned him accolades both here and in Ireland), flute and concertina player Jack Gilder, and guitarist/banjo picker Junji Shirota. Together, they play blazing reels, relaxed jigs, sprightly hornpipes, and moving airs in spare but thoughtful arrangements that have the airy, light feeling you might expect from a disc with this title. They also put in some set dances, marches, and an infectious set of polkas to add spice. Shirota's guitar gets an extra chance to shine on two O'Carolan tunes, and Gilder's flue playing does the same on "The Lament for Owen Roe" and the hornpipe "Garrai na Bhfeileoig," which is also the title tune. Russ's fiddle, meanwhile, leads on much of the dance music. Almost all the tunes are traditional, and the band members have clearly done their homework; this isn't a bunch of tunes played the way the Bothy Band used to do it, but a well-crafted album of new arrangements for thoroughly researched music learned from the best players, books and pubs in Irish music. The result is a thoroughly satisfying disc I'm sure I'll return to again and again."
- Steve Winick, Dirty Linen

"Mick Moloney is always careful to distinguish "lift" from mere speed in describing the rhythmic pulse in Irish traditional music. Lift is that dance pulse that sustains itself though jigs and reels as opposed to frenetic speed admired by some fiddlers. ...This is a sterling collection of jigs, reels, polkas, and set dances with ample opportunities for all three musicians to shine.... Russ's mastery of the slow air is demonstrated on "By Myself Once," his control and soulful expression combined in a performance whose only flaw is its brevity. ...played by skillful, expressive musicians, this is a welcome release."
- Bill Compton, Victory Music Review

"Russ has a fine ear for the details of a tune and his interplay with the concertina and flute of Jack Gilder is a delight to hear. Gilder and Russ trade the melodic duties often within the medleys.... As good as Gilder and Russ are together, it is the guitar playing of Junji Shirota that really takes the music to a higher level. Shirota's playing should be required listening for all Irish rhythm guitarists. ...when they play together they sometimes play more than music, they play magic."
- Michael Simmons, Fiddler Magazine

"This CD features two of the West Coast's veteran exponents of Traditional Irish music, whose names alone guarantee quality: Dale Russ on fiddle and Jack Gilder on flute, concertina and whistle. They are joined on guitar, 5 string banjo and bouzouki by Junji Shirota, a Japanese musician with a long history in bluegrass, who has a great feel for the Irish tradition as well. With the trend in commercial recordings of traditional music (especially as far as groups are concerned) towards increasing hit-or-miss experimentation and enervating musical gimmickry, it is often a relief to find a recording in which the music is allowed to stand on it's own merits. This is exactly what this CD delivers. The emphasis here is on close fiddle/flute and fiddle/concertina duet playing with effective backing from Junji. Demonstration of individual virtuosity takes a seat right at the back end of this session (beside the bodhran player!,) though Dale has surely booked his spot in Heaven with his track of the big piping jigs "The Gold Ring/The Humours of Ballyloghlin". Jack's concertina style weaves itself well into Dales fiddling...
You will probably have to listen to this CD a few times to fully appreciate it, but the more you listen, the more you will hear. Listening to it is like having a few quiet tunes with close musical friends in a nice quiet pub somewhere on the West Coast of Ireland. Those of you who know what I mean will understand this as a high recommendation.
"The liner notes give short bios of the musicians and information on the sources of their music. As a musician, I regard this as not just a welcome gesture of courtesy, but as a recognition of ones place in a vibrant community of traditional musicians past and present in Ireland and America. The CD is well worth adding to your collection."
- Paddy O'Neill, C.R.A.I.C, Los Angeles, CA

" Sprightly, lovingly performed Traditional Irish Music."
-Victory Music Review, Seattle, WA

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