Christmas begins today with An Echoes Celtic Sonic Seasonings
Jeff Johnson, Brian Dunning and Wendy Goodwin
I don’t know how Celtic music came to signify winter, but slow aires and Celtic harps seem to exemplify a quieter and more atmospheric side of the Winter season. We’ve dipped into that sound on Sonic Seasonings several times over the years and we’re doing it again.
Last week we recorded our seasonal live performance show, recording two concerts in 24 hours on opposite coasts. You can hear them tonight on an Echoes Celtic Sonic Seasonings.
This year we have two artists returning. On Monday afternoon, December 9, with fresh fallen snow on the ground, Moya Brennan came to the Echoes living room with her long time partner, harpist Cormac De Barra and her daughter Aisling Jarvis. In a testament to time, I first interviewed Moya backstage at the TLA Theater in Philadelphia in 1993 when she was pregnant with Aisling. And at the time, Moya spelled her name Máire Ní Bhraonáin.
Moya is acclaimed as the singer of Clannad, the Irish band that was part of the Celtic renaissance that began in the 1970s. That band reformed this year for the album, Nadur, but Moya has been solo for the last 15 years. This past year she released the album, Affinity with Cormac De Barra under the banner of Voices & Harps. She also re-released her album, An Irish Christmas with bonus tracks. We’ll hear this trio in a weave of harp strings and heart-rending harmonies when they play live on An Echoes Celtic Sonic Seasonings.
Immediately following Moya’s show in our southeastern Pennsylvania living room, Jeff Towne and I hopped on a flight to Seattle and the next day, December 10, we were in the home studio of keyboardist Jeff Johnson where he’d gathered his Celtic trio of flutist Brian Dunning and violinist Wendy Goodwin.
Jeff Johnson is a veteran of Celtic cross-over and devotional albums with dozens of CDs out on his own Ark Music label as well as Windham Hill and Hearts of Space Records. Brian Dunning has been with him on many of those
recordings. He has a connection to the early Celtic renaisance as a member of the band Nightnoise which included guitarist Mícheál Ó Domhnaill and his sister, singer and keyboardist Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill. Mícheál, who died in 2006 had been a member of the legendary and influential Bothy Band. They are joined by Portland-based violinist Wendy Goodwin who released her solo debut, Place of Refuge last year. Collectively, the trio released a gorgeous CD, of pastoral, ambient winter chamber works called Winterfold this past fall and it’s in the Echoes Top 25 for 2013
The trio crammed into Johnson’s studio and played beautiful arrangements of music from this album and drew from tracks that have appeared on Johnson & Dunning’s A Quiet Knowing albums and a few Windham Hill collections.
So sit back tonight and enjoy the best Christmas music you’ll hear this year; a sound that will take you out of the shopping malls and into your heart on An Echoes Celtic Sonic Seasonings
John Diliberto (((echoes)))
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Tags: 25 Essential Echoes CDs, Acoustic Guitar, Ambient Chamber Music, Bothy Band, Brian Dunning, Celtic, Celtic Christmas, Clannad, dream pop, harp, Irish, Irish Christmas, Jeff Johnson, Ludovico Einaudi, Moya Brennan, New Age, Nightnoise, Progressive Rock, Top 25 CDs of 2013, Wendy Goodwin, Winterfold, World Fusion