It’s been a strange year: out of left field came the renaissance of the banjo, and We Banjo 3 do something dramatically different with the instrument: tracing its roots from Africa to the US and across the Atlantic.
Gerry Diver’s (left) The Speech Project is a thought-provoking collection that marries original, avant-garde music with spoken-word reflections from a wonderful mix of musicians including Margaret Barry and Shane MacGowan. Zoë Conway and John McIntyre’s Go Mairir i bhFad:
Long Life to You is a celebratory amble through newly-composed tunes from many of the best composers in the traditional idiom, while Triúr’s second collection showcased the teeming imagination of Peadar Ó Riada, whose compositions glisten here.
And the dark horse of this year’s nominees? Altan’s box player, Dermot Byrne and his harpist partner, Floriane Blancke, deliver a collection of such subtlety and delicacy as to render the listener an eavesdropper on the magic of it all.
THE SPEECH PROJECT
Siobhán Long DERMOT BYRNE AND FLORIANE BLANCKE
Dermot Byrne and Floriane Blancke
ROOTS OF THE BANJO TREE
We Banjo 3
GO MAIRIR I BHFAD: LONG LIFE TO YOU
Zoë Conway and John McIntyre