Michael Coleman’s piano players

Michael Coleman’s piano players

I’ve now listened to 82 of Coleman’s 90 recorded sides and offer the following comments on his piano accompanists:
In fact most of his accompaniments were good, maybe just not to today’s tastes. Even the bad pianists played in time and changed key when he did (not always the same key though!) which would suggest that they did rehearse first before committing to disc, and weren’t so indifferent to the recordings as has been suggested. Considering these were mostly ‘first takes’, there are very few mistakes on the part of Coleman or his accompanists.
My favourite is Ed Geoghegan, who really whips up a storm on the 1927 recordings. I think he may be the good ‘unknown’ pianist on the 1924 New Republic recordings as well.
Also very good: Ed Lee, John Muller and Eileen O’Shea.
The worst pianist (ever) was Kathleen Brennan - sounding as if she was playing in a different session in the same studio!
Most of the ‘unknowns’ were quite good, apart from the Okeh 1922 recordings and the Columbia records made in September 1925.
Unfortunately some of Coleman’s most celebrated tracks are the ones with indiferent/bad accompaniment.
Does anybody have any info about these pianists, and were these the accompanists for his radio sessions?
Also, are there any of the radio recordings on release?
Any info gratefully received on this, and I look forward to hearing your comments about the above. And no, I don’t have anything better to do at the moment!

Re: Michael Coleman’s piano players

Kathleen Brennan ,according to music lore, was a fine fiddler and should have been the most able of his accompanists.

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Re: Michael Coleman’s piano players

do you mean the couple of radio broadcasts he did a few years before he died? none of those have been released, and they probably won’t be.

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Re: Michael Coleman’s piano players

"…a fine fiddler and should have been the most able of his accompanists."

If one makes certain assumptions which are all incorrect:

a)That playing fiddle means you can play piano
b)That playing melody means you understand accompaniment
c)That understanding how to play accompinement for pop music means you know how to do so for traditional music

KFG

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Re: Michael Coleman’s piano players

c) good observation. I have several R&R friends who are clueless when trying to figure out guitar accompanyment with ITM. I keep telling them to go listen to <insert group/player here> and it should work out.

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Re: Michael Coleman’s piano players

What a terrific observation, though, Sharon The Flute. And here’s me thinking every living being believes "cool" didn’t coming into existence until his or her generation was born.

Re: Michael Coleman’s piano players

I asked the IRTRAD list about "Coleman’s nutty piano player," the Kathleen Brennan who taught Andy McGann and the piano backer are, or most likely, aren’t the same person. I think it was. The names are different. Whoever it is, the Decca person is one of the worst ever, just lost.
I guess I’ve heard 89 of those sides, and a few later ones too, and generally the thumpers did OK, perhaps a bit monotonous is all. Ed Geoghean had his own orchestra which recorded a good few 78s, he backed up lots of players himself, for instance he was regarded as the "Fourth Flannegan brother."
My favorite piano player for sheer nuttiness was Leo Molloy backing up Donegal fiddler Danny O’Donnell on some reels - you can download that side at Ted McGraw’s CCE website. I’d like to hear more of Leo and Danny.

Re: Michael Coleman’s piano players

These later discs I mentioned were "radio transcripts," somebody explained that to me once, a disc for airplay. They’re listed in the back of the Viva Voce discography.I think generally on the radio Coleman played solo, or with Hugh Gillespie, I think Hugh says so in the bio. Other private recordings I’ve heard of NYC musicians made in the 50s generally don’t have piano, either. Paddy Killoran’s 50s LP had guitar backing.

Re: Michael Coleman’s piano players

Oh and…
Phillipe Varlet compiled the Irish section of the Spottswood discography of ethnic music, which lists pretty much every "folk" recording made in the US up to the 40s, I think. In the listing for Coleman he remarks of New Republic 1120 and 1121 "It has been suggested that these are viola solos." Wouldn’t that be weird! I’m writing Phillipe about this right now, only just noticed it. The records in question are Rakish Paddy, Apples in Winter, Larry O’Gaff, Sailor on the Rock. They seem slightly sharp of modern concert pitch, not a fifth lower, like you’d expect from a viola, this at a normal tempo.

Re: Michael Coleman’s piano players

Thanks Cuchulain for your kind words. You are a hero (!)
And thanks Kevin for your comments. With regard to ‘viola solos’ I’ll go and have another listen to those tracks and give you my comments.
Do you know any more about Ed Geoghegan?
(like where he was from - that’s an unusual name to me).