The Chieftains

Splendid glory

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By Michael Norman  

This fifteen track live album captures The Chieftains in all their splendid onstage glory. Ireland's legendary musical ambassadors gathered in the spring and summer of 2004 for a series of special concerts to honor their longtime harpist Derek Bell, who died unexpectedly in 2002. The performances at the Gaiety Theater and the National Concert Hall in Dublin are vintage Chieftains, showcasing the band and an impressive cast of guest stars from around the world, including American singers Allison Moorer and Jeff White, and pipe master Carlos Nunez of Galicia, Spain.

Traditional Irish folk music provides the foundation, from the stunning opening medley of "Brian Boru's March/Nine Points of Roguery/The Magpie" to mesmerizing Celtic hymn "Fionnghuala" to pipe-driven revelry of "Ta'an Coileach ag Fogairt an Lae."

But The Chieftains and their leader Paddy Moloney love to explore other musical styles, fusing their Irish sound with everything from Galician folk to American country. That spirit of fun-loving experimentation permeates this album. Moorer delivers a stunning rendition of the traditional Irish ballad, "Carrickfergus," while Nunez dazzles with a medley of tunes showcasing the links between Irish music and the folk songs of Galacia, Spain. In between, you'll hear jazz, blues, Canadian folk, classically inspired harp music and much more. It's all a fitting tribute to Derek Bell, indeed.

Michael Norman is Entertainment Editor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.