Tom Byrne

By Tom Byrne

Added by alec b .

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Tom Byrne is perhaps better known as a box player, but on this, his debut CD, he showcases his considerable talents playing harmonica. Frankie Gavin, who produced the album, appears on seven of the 12 tracks, and they are obviously having a grand time playing off each other. Carl Hession plays piano on most tracks, and Paul O’Driscoll backs on double bass on a few tracks, along with Laurence Doherty (snare drum). Byrne divides his time between both chromatic and diatonic harmonicas, and unlike many players of Irish trad (e.g., Paul Moran, Brendan Power, Joel Bernstein), he uses stock-tuned instruments rather than altered tunings, on all but one track. The CD leans toward hornpipes, and they are perfectly suited to Byrne’s playful, swingy style. He and Gavin have some great fun with The Poppy Leaf and Japanese hornpipes in particular. But he’s equally convincing on slow airs, reels, waltzes and strasthspeys. Byrne composed two of the tunes here, and plays a waltz composed by his father. There’s a 13-page insert with detailed information on the tunes and the artist, a nice touch that is frequently missing from CDs these days. A great debut.