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  • Writer's pictureThe Sound Cafe

Guitarist Christopher Dean Drops 'Morrison's Jig' Feat. Arvel Bird, Jim Soldi and James Keigher

By Stevie Connor. Celtic Guitarist Christopher Dean.

Put Celtic and American folk finger-style guitarist Christopher Dean in a space with renowned fiddle player Arvel Bird, mix them together with James Keigher on bodhran and Jim Soldi on rhythm guitar, and you have one very special track that they've created called 'Morrison's Jig'.

Morrison's Jig is a very common Irish session tune associated with the great fiddler James Morrison from Sligo. James or Jim Morrison grew up in a community steeped in traditional Irish culture, especially music, and at the age of 17 he was employed by the Gaelic League to tutor the Connacht style of step dancing, at the Gaelic League school in County Mayo. In 1915, at the age of 21, he emigrated to America and settled in New York City. Morrison was one of the leading Irish music teachers in New York in the 1930s and '40s.

Morrison did not compose the jig but rather obtained it from a Dromlacht, County Kerry, accordion player (a member of his band) named Tom Carmody who knew it as "Stick across the Hob." Carmody in turn had learned it from his father, Maurice.

The execution of Christopher Dean's playing of the guitar and mandolin on this track is absolutely precise, believe me, it's not an easy task for a guitarist to replicate embellishments like grace notes and triplings that would most commonly be played on a set of pipes or a fiddle, but he hammers them out at a good pace on this beautifully crafted arrangement.

I've been a big fan of Dean for many years, and he certainly attracts the best of the best to play along with him on his recordings, he's not just a gifted exponent of Celtic and American folk music on the 6 and 12 string guitar. In the Celtic tradition, he tells engaging, humorous stories, and weaves Celtic and American folk lore and history with his music - from haunting airs that take you far away to a land of the imagination - laments that evoke past glory - the familiar trinity of lively jigs, reels, and strathspeys, to the music of the American folk genre.

On this recording is Nashville-based Arvel Bird, whose “Celtic Indian” brand is a reflection of his mixed-blood American Indian and Celtic heritages -- With his violin, fiddle, Native flutes and Irish whistles, Arvel weaves a powerful tapestry of music and stories. From music festivals to concert halls, audiences get a glimpse into his Native American heart and Scottish soul.

Also appearing here is well known guitarist Jim Soldi who spent a decade in Nashville playing with Johnny Cash, and in the Ricky Skaggs band as well. His family has owned and operated Valley Music in El Cajon, and his dad was a well known country swing musician back in the day.

And, last but not least to mention is James Keigher, who plays in a well known duo blending a collection of folk music from Ireland and Scotland with a varied selection of instruments.

I would highly recommend checking this track out, and digging deeper into Christopher Dean's back catalogue, he always comes up with lovely arrangements on whatever he decides to tackle. And, don't stop there, each of the musician's contributing are highly gifted in their own right, and deserve to be sought out.

Arvel Bird Jim Soldi James Keigher


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