Buy this album. It has great traditional Irish piping
and fiddling on it - 40 tunes in all, mostly taking the form of really
swinging pipes/fiddle duets by Bay Area ceoltoiri Denman on uilleann pipes
and Dennehy on fiddle with ace rhythm support by Gerry O'Beirne and Christy
O'Connell (guitars), Paul Machlis (keyboards), Kyle Thayer (octave mandolin),
Kevin Powers (Bodhrán) and Piper Heisig and Séamus Finneran
First sonic impressions? A scintillating recreation of the clean, tight,
driving, rippling, soaring, absolutely sybaritic sound of the early Bothy
Band (Keenan/Burke/Lunny) that instantly puts your head in the clouds and
your feet on the floor.
Tunewise, there are good new compositions by Paddy O'Brien and Charlie
Lennon, two lovely airs by Todd Denman (I'm With You and Looking Back),
some snappy renditions of standards like Woman of the House, Bag of Spuds,
Sporting Paddy, Butcher's March, Limestone Rock, Maude Miller, Liffey Banks,
Kit O'Mahony's Jig and a dandy polka medley from the playing of fiddler
Buy this album. It belongs in every traditional Irish music collection,
and it will make you happy from first note to last.
- L.E. McCullough, Iris na bPíobairí
...Like Magic is the first release of the new
San Francisco label Aniar Records. Their mission is to release the best
music from the current crop of Celtic musicians and they couldn't have
gotten off to a better start than with this CD from uilleann piper Todd
Denman and fiddler Bill Dennehy. They play Irish music with a passion and
intelligence that honors tradition but doesn't embalm it. This CD is a
mix of bright and lively dance tunes with slow airs. Denman's version of
Lagan Love, a duet with pianist Paul Machlis, is a moving example of the
uilleann pipes' ability to imbue a slow, simple melody with a mysterious
But this is not Todd Denman's solo show by any means. The fiddle and
the pipes sound wonderful when played together, and Dennehy and Denman
know how to take these two famously difficult instruments and make them
sing some fine duets. As they take turns playing jigs and reels and then
play in unison you can hear the strings and reeds become one instrument.
Dennehy's fiddling is superb. He has a smooth style and even on the quickest
passages his playing is articulate with good intonation.
They are helped along by some fine backing musicians including Gerry
O'Beirne and Christy O'Connell on guitar, Kyle Thayer on octave mandolin.
Kevin Powers on Bodhrán, and Piper Heisig and Séamus Finneran
on percussion. The accompaniment is understated and always supports the
melodies without overpowering them. I enjoyed this CD very much and I am
looking forward to future releases from Denman and Dennehy.
- Michael Simmons, Fiddler Magazine
Denman first heard the uilleann pipes on the radio while
[preparing to leave for] college. While he does not remember the particular
piper or ensemble he first heard, he does recall feeling "a recognition...
I had never heard it before, but I thought, this is my music'."
Denman ordered his first set of pipes through the mail, and began the
struggle of learning to play an instrument he had never seen played before.
In Ireland, it is said that it takes seven years to learn the uilleann
pipes, seven years to practice, and seven years to play. Denman reckons
that adage is "very accurate." Having started playing in 1980,
Denman would be in his "third seven."
Along the way he has become a very skillful and receptive interpreter
of the instrument. He has studied piping here and abroad, and earned a
National Endowment for the Arts Award. Denman has also served as
President of the San Francisco Pipers Club.
Bill Dennehy was raised in Irish music; his father played Kerry-style
accordion. As a child he didn't like the sound at all; yet hearing the
playing of Tommy Peoples at the age of 16 inspired him to take up the fiddle.
Dennehy is one of the co-founders of the San Francisco Irish Fiddle Club.
Todd and Bill first started playing together around twelve years ago
when Denman first came to the Bay Area. They left off when Denman went
to Europe to study. Upon his return, the pair began playing together incessantly.
It is then that they recorded ...Like Magic.
The album is beautifully played. It holds a good variety of dance tunes
(jigs, reels, polkas and slow airs), both traditional and contemporary
compositions. Denman plays with the sensitivity of a musician born to the
instrument. Dennehy does the same.
The pair share leads, and create a very full sound even when it is only
the two of them on a track. At times, they conjure up the magic of early
Bothy Band recordings; if you close your eyes you just might see them slipping
into the shoes of Paddy Keenan and Tommy Peoples. While many musicians
find the studio an intimidating environment, Denman actually composed the
two airs ("I'm With You" and "Looking Back") in the
- Maureen Brennan, The San Francisco Gael, California's Brightest
Paddy Glackin & Robbie Hannan
Todd Denman & Bill Dennehy
Here are two good traditional releases of uilleann pipe/fiddle duets,
one hailing from Ireland and the other from America.
Born in Dublin, Paddy Glackin is one of Ireland's finest fiddlers. On
this release he is joined by Robbie Hannan, of County Down, who took up
the uilleann pipes after being inspired by the playing of Liam O'Flynn
and Paddy Maloney. Glackin's playing is precise, and Hannan shows a good
mastery of the pipes, including a couple of real workouts on the regulators.
Glackin and Hannan play in the Donegal style, and "The Whirlwind"
features 11 duets and a couple of solos for each of them, underscoring
their individual talents. The release is straight, unadorned, masterful
traditional playing, with just the pipes and fiddle.
The CD from Todd Denman and Bill Dennehy also features Irish traditional
material. It has the sound of a session, and Denman and Dennehy claimed
that they weren't sure what was coming when the tape started rolling. Nevertheless,
it sounds very tight, and is helped along by some fine backing musicians
(such as Gerry O'Beirne on guitars and Paul Machlis on piano). The rhythm
backing gives extra power and lift to the fiddle and pipes, as in "Woman
of the House/The New Mown Meadow/The Bag of Spuds" on the first set.
They show a good command of the slower pieces as well, such as on the
lament "Lagan Love," with fine tonal shadings from Denman on
the pipes. And they provide some fine treatments of classic session numbers
such as "Con Cassidy's," "the Foxhunter's jig" and
"The Blackbird [Reel]."
- Ivan Emke, Dirty Linen (Corner Brook, NF, Canada)
...Like Magic. An Excellent adventure. With that mighty
combination, the fiddle and pipes, Bill Dennehy and Todd Denman strike
a tasty balance between the traditional and the contemporary; much of the
latter being provided by the angelic groove-meister Gerry O'Beirne on guitar.
- Cait Reed, Irish News and Entertainment
From the Pacific coast of America are two musicians,
Todd Denham and Bill Dennehy, who have taken time and effort to learn their
craft and put out a very good album of Irish Traditional music that has
a feel of the "Bothy Band" with its core instruments of Uilleann
pipes, Fiddle [guitar, bouzouki] and keyboards. Todd Denham has obviously
listened hard to Paddy Keenan's piping which is obviously a major influence,
but I suspect he is developing his own style here and there, noticeable
when he plays My Lagan Love on the flat pitched pipes - not a common
tune on the instrument, with its strange modulations. The album was made
with the aim of a spontaneous session in the studio, not a bad idea and
it came off on this occasion. An enjoyable album.
- Joe Crane, Folk Roots
Ever since the Irish super group The Bothy Band and the
pairing of Paddy Keenan and Tommy Peoples the interweaving sound of the
Uillean pipes and fiddle has fascinated me. Few albums have been able to
capture the energy and drive that those early Bothy Band recordings achieved.
Piper Todd Denman and fiddler Bill Dennehy have reawakened much of that
initial excitement I remember upon hearing the wild melodious strains of
fiddle and uillean pipes together. Based in the San Francisco area Denman
and Dennehy have been playing with each other informally for a number of
years. Like Magic, an all instrumental recording, is their first together.
While the playing of Denman and Dennehy is top notch the guitar work of
Gerry O'Beirne is the icing on the cake which propels the recording to
another level. In my mind the fiddle and uillean pipes embody Irish music
and it isn't often enough you get a chance to hear them both on one recording,
especially not on one of this quality.
- Cliff McGann, Celtic Heritage