Duo: Gerry O'Connor & Gilles Le Bigot
Irish Fiddle, Breton Guitar
"....Two brilliant musicians from two very different disciplines, come together in concert to swop and share their enormous talents. Wonderful music, full of passion, fire and energy....., " David Kidman
"As far as I am concerned, this is one of the great records of fiddle music. I suspect it will still be in my CD player for a good while yet". Paul Burgess, Living Tradition
......O'Connor fully explores his repertoire to glorious effect and not least on the highland “Donal Dub” which provides the launching point for a series of fabulously frenetic reels. Le Bigot proves to be a more than sympathetic accompanist, capable of supplying a splendidly rhythmic backdrop for the reel and jigs, but also offering admirable restraint when supporting O'Connor's evocative playing of reels. However, it's undoubtedly the fiddler who steals the show. His resonant playing of the reel 'Bonny Anne incorporates all kind of show-stopping twists and turns, octave swoops and an intensity which few fiddlers can match.....
. Geoff Wallis.
When Irish fiddler Gerry O’Connor last toured Australia in the 1980s, he met and played with Melbourne-based Celtic musician Louis McManus. So it was fitting that O’Connor should headline the Louis McManus Memorial Concert – a tribute to the late multi-instrumentalist – at this year’s Brunswick Music Festival.
The concert opened with a lively set by Trouble in the Kitchen, a local outfit that has recently expanded its trad-folk lineup (fiddle, bouzouki, guitar and flute) to incorporate the accordion of Caroline Frawley. On Friday night, Frawley’s fluent playing added fresh colours to the group’s finely-honed arrangements – especially the new material, which made excellent use of varying instrumental combinations to build energy and momentum. Ben Stephenson played a key role in sustaining this energy, his entire body dancing in time with his marvellously expressive flute and whistle.
Gerry O’Connor, by contrast, barely moved his body at all (apart from his right foot, which tapped animatedly throughout his set). Even his fiddle remained virtually motionless, held perfectly still as the bow moved fluidly over its strings. But the music that emerged from his instrument couldn’t have been more vibrant. Its plangent, full-bodied tone was utterly intoxicating, enhanced by O’Connor’s flawless and dynamic articulation. Not a single note was thrown away; every tiny ornament, sliding grace note and subtle variation felt like an extension of the melody and the impassioned spirit behind it.
O’Connor’s superb onstage companion – Breton guitarist Gilles le Bigot – has worked with the fiddler for over a decade, and the two have developed a musical shorthand that allows them to alter the direction of a tune or medley with the barest of gestures. On Friday, a slight nod of the head or lift of the eyebrow was enough to precipitate a seamless transition between jigs, or a gentle rubato to bring a joyously whirling reel back to earth.
Le Bigot’s open tuning lent his guitar an appealing richness and warmth, whether he was doubling O’Connor’s melody line, creating a nimble counter-melody or driving the tune forward
Brunswick Music Festival
GERRY O’CONNOR & GILLES LE BIGOT; TROUBLE IN THE KITCHEN
Brunswick Town Hall
Friday 7 April 2006
Review by: JESSICA NICHOLAS
Bios: Gerry O'Connor & Gilles le Bigot (IRL/BZH)
Irish Fiddle music with the Colour of Brittany
Gerry O’Connor comes from Dundalk, County Louth and is the product of four generations of fiddle players. His past recordings have focused strongly on local music and his work as a soloist and as a band member of Lá Lugh (Sony Music)and Skylark (Claddagh Records) is well known across the world. Over the past two decades he has recorded and performed with all the leading performers of the Irish music world including members of the Chieftains, Boys of the Lough, Planxty, De Dannan and Bothy Band. He has also recorded and toured with the Irish Baroque Orchestra and currently tours with the Irish Rovers. His solo album Journeyman has been hailed as one of the significant albums of Irish fiddle music. Gerry is also a violin-maker, music teacher and music producer. His recent projects include Jig Away the Donkey, Oirialla ,and compiling a song collection of Cathal McConnell (Boys of the Lough).
Guitarist Gilles Le Bigot, is best known in Brittany as the co-founder of the groups Skolvan and Barzaz. Since the early 1980's his work as guitar-player and composer is characterized by the” open-tuning” style. Gilles recorded and performed with Lá Lugh throughout the 1990s and has continued to work with Gerry O’Connor since that time recording a live duo album “In Concert” with him in 2006. He has also collaborated on several major recordings such as ” l’Héritage des Celtes” by Dan Ar Braz and “Azéliziza ” by Le Bagad Kemper. Over the years Gilles has performed and recorded with Kornog, Slovan, Barzaz, Fiddle Rendezvous and his own trio line-up, Empreintes with Jean Michel Veillon and Marthe Vassalo.
FIDDLE WORKSHOP with GERRY O’CONNOR
I try to teach so that the fiddle player learns how to approach the learning of the instrument with a focus on making the bowing enhance the melodies learned. I will teach a small number of tunes, both popular and unusual, focusing on the bowing patterns inherent to, and specific to each tune learned. I will highlight and explain what I describe as “Typical Bowing Patterns in Irish Music specific to the playing of Dance music”.
Level. This class is offered to students of an intermediate level of fiddle playing.
Some experience in learning by ear would be an advantage. More importantly what is required is a positive approach to attempting to learn by watching and listening. In this way the tune and the bowing will come together naturally.
The bowing and articulation of bow patterns in the playing of jigs and other familiar dance rhythms introduced in the early part of the class will provide the basis for a systematic approach to a generic playing of Irish fiddle music suitable for this level of experience.This will enable the student to identify some repetitive patterns of bowing which, although non specific, will aid the student in understanding the non- random activity of fiddle bow activity in Irish fiddle playing.
Tunes Types will include Jigs,Reels, Highlands, SingleJigs, Hornpipes, Slip Jigs and a slow air
other melody types will be taught should time allow.
Audio and selective video recording is encouraged. The notation of the workshop tunes with some typical bowing motifs indicated will be forwarded by email after the class
The focus in this class will be not just to learn more tunes but to improve the ability to play and enjoy the experience of playing the fiddle. A class of 10 -12 would be considered appropriate.
GUITAR WORKSHOP with GILLES LE BIGOT
(This can be given in French and/or Engish)
This workshop is above all an occasion for pleasure and relaxation– pleasure to come together to learn new songs and techniques, each at one’s own pace and level.
My role is to best meet your expectations as you enter into my musical world, and to ensure that you leave with lots of new ideas to explore.
Level required: At least 2-3 years of experience in standard tuning. In this workshop different levels are made possible by alternating group with individual work.
TOPICS: Study of open tuning: The guitar being tuned DADGAD, we will work on different chording positions, accompaniment approaches and appropriate guitar works.
Repertoire: Celtic music
Techniques discussed: Working with both pick and fingers through a variety of songs and accompaniments. Appropriate exercises are offered in both techniques.
Rhythm: A look at different right hand rhythms in the accompaniment of dance music, along with relevant exercises in these rhythms.
Harmony: The goal is to provide some approaches to the harmonizing of melodies, and will be illustrated with specific examples of accompaniments in Breton and Irish music.
Material: Something to record portions of the workshop. Scoring will be in tablature.
Bring a pick and a capo.
Promo; Album and Live Reviews
Gerry O'Connor & Giles le Bigot
LUGCD 963IN CONCERT
1. The Yellow Wattle / Pat McKenna's / The Butlers of Glen Avenue (jigs)
2. Dónal Dubh (Highland + reels)
3. Mál Bhán / The Destitution (reels)
4. Bonny Anne / Traver's / Sporting Nell (reels)
5. Mummer's March / Bog an Locháin / Rosebuds in the Summer / Launching the Boat (march, highland, reels)
6. A Bruxa (air)
7. Stirling Tom (hornpipes)
8. The Boy in his Pants / Big John's (jigs)
9. Hanly's / The Old Dudeen / The Widow's Daughter (reels)
10. La Retour de Madagascar (air)
11. Jig in A / Dancing Eyes / Up & About in the Morning (jigs)
12. Shetland Bus (waltz)
13. The Donnellan Set (reels)
14. The Chicken's Gone to Scotland / Kitty the Hare / Jim Irvin's / The Drunken Maids of Ardnaree (highland / reels)
www.netrhythms.com: "An inordinately fine live album". David Kidman
The Folk Diary: "This an album of the highest quality". Vic Smith
The Living Tradition: "this is one of the great records of fiddle music". Paul Burgess
The Irish Post: "I feel sure you will enjoy this mighty recording of two masters at work". Joe Mularkey
Two brilliant musicians from two very different disciplines, come together in concert to swop and share their enormous talents. Wonderful music, full of passion, fire and energy, which can only be captured in live performance, and rarely captured in the rarefied area of the recording studio. I always liken it to capturing a butterfly. Long live live music.We at Copperplate are delighted to add this fine title to our catalogue, in fact Gerry was dubious about releasing it, (content just to sell it on his live gigs), with 4 of the titles already available on Journeyman. But we were so knocked out with his playing on this live album, have persuaded Gerry to make it available more widely.We hope you will support our actions by buying in shedloads, but also marvel at the playing of two masters at work, In Concert.Gerry O'Connor is a leading player of traditional music in his home country of Ireland. This live concert CD captures the brilliance of his playing in the duo format. Here on this CD Gerry is accompanied by Breton guitarist Gilles le Bigot, a player with many credits over a number of years with the distinction of being the person to really develop the open tuning style of accompaniment on guitar for traditional music.
sparkling ... immaculate ... with dazzling ability were words used recently by the Irish national press to describe the music of Gerry O'Connor, one of Ireland's most outstanding fiddle players. His family has played fiddle for at least four generations and Gerry is able to draw on this wealth of music learned from his mother Rose O'Connor and also from hand-written manuscripts passed down through the family. Later he came under the influence of Joe Gardiner the great Sligo fiddle player, who lived in Dundalk for many years. Gerry breathes new life and intensity into many long forgotten tunes from his home area in the North East of Ireland. His unique personal style and splendidly fluid bow-hand combined with technical virtuosity have brought him to concert stages throughout the world and have earned him international renown. Gerry is sought after throughout the world as a master musician for masterclasses . Over the years Gerry has brought his vibrant fiddle music to Siberia, Denmark, Sweden, Italy Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Norway, Brittany and Spain. Some of this was with "Lá Lugh" but other projects included working with various musicians including Donal Lunny, Breton guitarist Gilles le Bigot, and Italian pianist Antonio Breschi. Gerry was also a founder member of the now legendary Skylark.
Gilles le Bigot Originating from Saint-Brieuc (Department Côtes d?Armor), he took up the guitar in 1972 at the age of 13. This instrument lead him naturally to listen to music from different origins : from rock to baroque folk, and then to jazz music. During the big celtic wave of the 75s, he discovered celtic music through groups such Planxty, Bothy Band, Clannad and Alan Stivell. He then discovered the Fest-Noz, at first as a dancer, and later as a musician, accompanying the group of singers Les Pillotouses (1976), and then playing with the group Gallorn (1978). A self-taught man, these two experiences lead him to adopt the open tuning method and to develop a guitar playing style adapted to Breton music. Since the 1980s, this style has gained widespread acceptance and a lot of guitarists have adopted it.Check the lads out at
Gerry and Gilles go live
"Sparkling", "immaculate" and "dazzling" were words used recently by the national press to describe the music of Gerry O'Connor, one of Ireland's most outstanding fiddle players.
His family has played fiddle for at least four generations and Gerry is able to draw on this wealth of music learned from his mother Rose O'Connor and also from hand-written manuscripts passed down through the family.
Gerry breathes new life and intensity into many long forgotten tunes from his home area in the North East of Ireland.His unique personal style and splendidly fluid bow-hand combined with technical virtuosity have brought him to concert stages throughout the world and have earned him international renown.
December 2004 saw the release of his album entitled Journeyman which traces Gerry's musical development and experiences as a skilled performer in the traditional art of fiddle playing.
Gilles le Bigot originating from Saint-Brieuc, Brittany, and took up the guitar in 1972 at the age of 13.
He discovered Celtic music through groups such Planxty, Bothy Band and Clannad. A self-taught man, he adopted the open tuning method and developed a guitar-playing style to suit Breton music. Since the 1980s, this style has gained widespread acceptance and a lot of guitarists have adopted it.
This 14-track CD has a superb selection of jigs, reels, hornpipes, and a beautiful slow air. I feel sure you will enjoy this mighty recording of two masters at work.
The music world has been knocked out with the playing and interplay between these two fine musicians, reacting to each other's expertise. Joe Mularkey
The Living Tradition Sept/Oct.06I have a bit of a problem with this one. I put it in the CD player ready to hear it a few times and then write my normal balanced review - this worked ok, but the CD is still there. Every time I go to hear something else, there it is looking at me, until I think - well I'll just hear the track that... After, I realize that I've listened to the whole album once again. I don't really feel I want to hear anything else, I've been seduced all over again by the empathy and teamwork of the two musicians.
By the way the music is always at the service of the musicians: the way they make the reels shiver and glint, the way they make the airs ache with beauty, the obvious delight which these two take in putting over some fabulous and varied material.
All of this is topped by the real feeling of two superlative musicians stretching themselves and by the edge that only a great live performance can bring. And they recorded it all in one evening at one gig. Pah. For this I can easily forgive them the meagre information supplied - not even the names of all the tunes.
As far as I am concerned, this is one of the great records of fiddle music. I suspect it will still be in my CD player for a good while yet.Paul Burgess The Folk Diary September.06
Here's an interesting combination; One of Ireland's most highly regarded fiddle players, known both as a soloist and as a member of top bands such as La Lugh and Skylark teams up with one of the most accomplished and sensitive guitar accompanists from Brittany.
Like Gerry, Gilles has been a member of a number of top bands, most notably the incomparable Skolvan. They show agreat empathy in playing together with the subtle, underplayed rhythms and adventurous chording on the guitar giving the fiddle the confidence to soar, particularly on the playing of reels such as the "Bonny Anne" set.
This was recorded - very well, it must be said - in front of an audience in Douarnenez, and it is flawless in a way that is rarely found with live albums.
Copperplate's decision to push for this as a full release rather than just a sell-on-gigs album should be justified as this an album of the highest quality. (firstname.lastname@example.org) Vic Smithhttp://netrhythms.com/reviews.html#gerryo 29th August.06
I've only just recovered from prolonged (but most pleasurable!) exposure to Gerry's previous CD, Journeyman, which set his sparkling fiddle playing in context on an enviably wide range of tunes and arrangements; and now along comes close on a whole hour's worth of a live recording showcasing Gerry's talents when teamed on stage with Breton guitarist Gilles Le Bigot.
I'll confess I'd not before heard of Gilles, but I'm now very glad to have made his acquaintance! Amazingly, I learn, Gilles is entirely self-taught, and his adoption of the open-tuning method in the late 1970s had been a key factor in his development of a guitar-playing style adapted to Breton music, a style which has since gained widespread acceptance among guitarists.
Actually, this isn't an easy album to review, in that there's not an awful lot that I can say about it beyond a slew of superlatives and "wow" words. I could try to wax lyrical about individual items within the concert, or else the cumulative effect of over a dozen jaw-droppingly excellent sets of varying tempos and moods.
Or I could search the thesaurus in vain to try to convey the sheer joyousness of the playing on the Dónal Dubh set (track 2), with its devil-may-care show-stopping transition from the highland to the closing reel, or the lyrical thrust of the slower material like the airs Mál Bhán or A Bruxa, or the unusual handling of the rhythmic elements at times like the ambitious march/highland/reel set (track 5), or the jazzy swing of the hornpipes set (track 7) or the headlong momentum that drives both players in interlocked embrace on the various sets of jigs … But even so, I still really can't accurately convey the flavour of the experience, other than to say that it's a brilliant and lasting record of two musicians at the absolute peak of their powers, conjuring up a scintillating brew of tunes with all the fluid technical virtuosity they can muster yet displaying a truly mighty empathy for each other's skilled flights of fancy and improvisation within the designated framework. An inordinately fine live album. David Kidman
Biographie En Francais
Gerry O’Connor: Gerry est respecté et reconnu comme étant aujourd’hui l’un des plus grands violonistes d’Irlande. Il a créé le groupe SKYLARK, puis le groupe LA LUGH à la fin des années 80, avec lequel il tournera pendant plus de 10 ans. Début 2005 Gerry sort son album solo « JOURNEYMAN »salué par la critique comme étant : « Un album sublime d’airs de fiddle » (The Irish Times) et sacré « Meilleur album irlandais de l’année » par The Irish music review. Gerry est, en effet, l’artisan (dans le sillage de sa mère, également violoniste) du renouveau d’un style musical de l’est de Irlande, où il réside depuis toujours.
Gilles Le Bigot: Originaire de Saint-Brieuc (22), Gilles commence la guitare en à l’age de 13 ans. La grande vague celtique des années 75 lui fait découvrir des groupes comme Panxty, Bothy Band, Clannad et plus près de lui Alan Stivell. Autodidacte de formation, la musique traditionnelle le conduit à développer un jeu de guitare adapté à cette sonorité « celtique » et plus particulièrement bretonne. Depuis les années 80 ce style a fait école et on retrouve aujourd’hui de nombreux guitaristes l’ayant adopté. Gilles se consacre depuis plusieurs années à l’arrangement et à la composition autour de l’univers de « La guitare celtique » . Hautement apprécié, au delà des frontières de la Bretagne, pour ses talents de guitariste, d’accompagnateur et de compositeur, Gilles est devenu depuis une trentaine d’années un véritable « routard » de la musique traditionnelle. Il a participé à une multitude de projets et de groupes dont on retiendra entre autres SKOLVAN ; BARZAZ ; KORNOG ; DAN AR BRAZ & L’HERITAGE DES CELTES. En 2002 il sort son premier album solo ‘Empreintes’. Il vient récemment de participer à une création aux côtés du guitariste français Jean Félix Lalanne, de l’anglais John Renbourn et de l’américain Stefan Grossman.
Gilles a fait également partie du groupe LA LUGH à la fin des années 90 aux côtés de Martin et Gerry avec qui il poursuit depuis 2006 une carrière en duo.