Eamonn Cotter's New Flute Album
Flute player and maker, Eamonn Cotter has released his first solo album in sixteen years. Though he has been involved with many recordings (with the group Shaskeen and others), he felt it was time for him ‘to produce a new one more reflective of my current playing’. Speaking to The Journal of Music, Cotter elaborated on that change: ‘It’s mostly an organic thing, rather than a conscious change. I think there’s more assertiveness in the playing, more drive, and that comes to an extent from just being physically stronger with age, but also with confidence. The notes are a little more defined in the playing, punctuated with tonguing and so on.’
Interestingly, in the intervening years Cotter has worked with the Limerick Jazz Workshop and thanks that collective in the sleeve notes.
Entitled The Knotted Chord: Traditional Music From County Clare, the album features many arrangements of traditional tunes, but there is also a good few acknowledged compositions: Liz Carroll’s ‘The Ronan Boys’ and ‘The Spy Czar’; Josie McDermott’s ‘Father O’Grady’s Visit to Bocca’; Jack Coughlan’s ‘Favourite’; ‘The Road to Thurles’ and ‘Liam O’Connor’s Fancy’ by Paddy O’Brien; James Kelly’s ‘The Sloping Hills of Ross’; and two tunes of Cotter’s – ‘The Balleen Jig’ and ‘The Steinway Queen’.
With the exception of an antique flute that he plays on a set of reels (‘Tomeen O’Dea’s’ and ‘Ballykett Courthouse’) he recalls being played by Séamus MacMathúna, P J Crotty and Michael Tubridy, all the flutes he plays on the album (C, D and E♭) were made by himself in his workshop in Kilmaley.
As would be expected from his musical background, he plays many of the tunes accompanied by his sister Geraldine on piano, and many are notated in her musical score collections. Garry O’Briain joins him on guitar for some sets (‘The Few Bob’ / ‘The Tullamore Piper’; ‘The Sloping Hills of Ross’ / ‘Within a Mile of Dublin’ / ‘The Old Pigeon on the Gate’; and ‘The Balleen Jig’ / ‘Patsy Geary’s’; ‘Jack Roe’s’ / Mulqueen’s’). On other tracks he plays with his daughters Sadhbh and Gráinne, Eileen O’Brien (who did the string arrangement for the ‘decorative piece’, ‘Nóra Críonna’), Charlie Harris and Maeve Donnelly. The tracks include two airs, namely ‘Aisling Gheal’ and ‘The Mountain Streams where the Moorcocks Crow’.
In his note on the cover, Kieran Hanrahan suggests that ‘Clare does not have an extensive flute-playing tradition. Names like Paddy Mullins of the Kilfenora, Miko Russell, P J Crotty, Brendan McMahon, Peter O’Loughlin, Michael Tubridy, Brid O’Donohue, Garry Shannon and Paul Roche are among the relatively small population of flute players from this most musical of counties. Eamonn fits comfortably into that company and excels.’ Cotter himself pointed out that his early playing, at a time when there was less opportunity to get lessons, was more influenced by the fiddle and concertina playing her heard around him than by mimicking other flute players.
Published on 12 September 2012