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Tethnik Records TETHNIK109

Any preconceptions you may have about harmonicas, forget 'em! In the hands (and mouth!) of Brendan Power, they become instruments of awe and magic. Along with extensive TV and Hollywood soundtrack composition, work with global superstars and a 3-year Riverdance tenure, a dozen albums attest to the man's extreme virtuosity on the apparently humble metal-and-reeds blowing apparatus. Some are themed (Two Trains Running (blues), Harmonica Nights (easy-listening), New Irish Harmonica); some are an eclectic multi-genre mix like Digging In which covers, in Power's own words, "hard rock to anguished teeth-grinding avant garde solo soundscapes to smooth jazz to roots blues to celtic ..." Now the New Zealander releases a set of self-written folk-inspired tunes (give or take a couple of Trad Arr) with just as much, if not more, eclecticism.

Power is a grand master of the jazz noodle, the blues bend, the chromatic shift; the sweet croon, the driving vamp and the liquid arpeggio are all grist to his mill - and there's dollops of it all here. Tradish's influences are far-reaching: Sweet Bulgarity is a eastern-laced tempo-bender that'll have you practising your belly dancing until Farewell To Muswell Hill brings you back to a wistful English ambience. Power's signature tune Jig Jazz makes a welcome appearance, with Steve Cooney's guitar proving a particularly sympatico partner on the Irish end of things.

Power's chosen musician buddies intuit perfectly his complex, syncopated arrangements, and inventive and subtle combos abound: electric mandola and chromatic harmonica make an eerily Oriental sound on the languid Lorraine's Dream while The Bloom Of Youth has Power matching Gerry O'Connor's crisp tenor banjo triplets with precision and panache. Andy Irvine, Declan Masterson, Mick Kinsella, Ian Carr and others add to the musical excellence, though the album ends on the chilling solo Lament For The 21st Century which amply validates the harmonica's expressive abilities in the hands of a master. A wonderful, wonderful album. If you're new to Brendan Power, start here; buy, listen and be gobsmacked.

Footnote: Power redefines the word 'passion' when applied to harmonicas. Anything you want to know about diatonics and chromatics, just visit his website. Not only does BP blow the things, he custom-builds and markets them. Bebop tuning? No problem!

Mel McClellan - 2004

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Tradish Shes a beaute Bren, Makes me proud to be your bro!
Steve Power, New Zealand

Why is Brenden power saying goodbye to Muswell Hill?
Louise, Muswell Hill

Having just seen Brendan play live we are blown away by the man's sheer musical brilliance. His harmonica growls, cries, laments, soars and wriggles into every nook and cranny of your soul to express the whole gamut of emotion. Intellectually stimulating and technically so clever it hurts, this blazing talent has to be heard to be believed.
sue hook, deep south of England
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An impeccable selection of the best in folk, roots and acoustic music.
Mike Harding
BBCi Music

Celtic Roots - BBC Scotland

Celtic Heartbeat - BBC Wales

Brendan Power's website

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