Updated Feb 2, 2024
Eileen Ivers, Crossing the Bridge, CD
by Ryan Thomson
Several years ago I was attending a weekend music festival in the Catskills. After a fine afternoon of session playing I slung my fiddle over my shoulder and went to the dining hall. The dinner was buffet style, and I loaded up my plate and made my way through the crowded room to an available seat at a long table.
I made the acquaintance of my neighbors and the talk turned to music, and fiddling in particular. The gentleman directly across the table from me asked me some questions about my fiddle, and we discussed the techniques of learning traditional tunes. He seemed affable and interested in what I had to say, and so I asked him if he played. He smiled and replied, "No I don't, but my daughter is really excited about fiddling. She plays all the time and really has fun with it." We continued talking while we ate, and after a while he mentioned his daughter's name, "Eileen."
Eileen Ivers is, of course, well known in traditional Irish music circles for her strong and dynamic fiddling of jigs and reels. In this CD she shows us another musical side with a refreshing marriage of traditional tunes with mainstream music styles. A number of popular Irish groups are taking this approach lately, and I find the results often pleasing to my ear.
On this CD the effect is seamless: the electric guitar riffs blend with virtuoso traditional fiddling. On some tracks her violin produces some unusual characteristics of sound, with a flavor of blues, rock and roll, and even a psychedelic touch. I found the accompanying musicians on the album to be of similar virtuoso level, and the credits on the CD back read like a who's who of jazz and traditional players. 42 different musicians(too many to name) grace this recording with fiery intensity and well planned arrangements.
The overall intent of the music seems to be a "world music" feel, with the continuous undercurrent of traditional jigs and reels. Sometimes the Irish tunes break to the surface, and other times sink gently down into the mix of rhythms and melodies from many ethnic and popular origins. This is the inevitable result of Eileen's involvement with Riverdance, and creative musical experimentation combining different genres of music.
I hope that she makes more recordings like this!
Written by Ryan Thomson, 2000