CD Reviews

Choose one of the items below to find out what the media, as well as listeners, are saying about Grey’s recordings.

Reviews for Cross the Water
Grey’s first recording with Cindy Kallet

  • Sing Out! Magazine’s review of Cross the Water, Vol. 52 # 2. Summer 2008 PDF

    By Rich WarrenCross the Water is the first full CD joint effort between Cindy Kallet and Grey Larsen who have become life partners as well as musical partners. The caring and affection are readily audible in this recording.

    The CD alternates between Kallet’s original songs and Larsen’s original/traditional tunes. She sings lead and plays guitar, fiola, and harmonium, while he sings harmonies and plays Irish flutes, tin whistle, Anglo concertina, fiddle, harmonium and guitar. This miniature folk fest of instruments on this self-produced CD keeps the sound varied and interesting. Kallet and Larsen bring nine originals here, and they perform lovely covers of “October Song” by Robin Williamson and “Lull Myself To Sleep” by Dillon Bustin. Larsen sings lead on the latter, which is anything but a lullaby. They add a few traditional instrumentals for balance, including “The Eighth of January / Black Mountain Rag” and “Fisher’s Hornpipe / Old Leather Britches.” Kallet covers considerable distance with her song “If You Say Yes” as it moves from love song to political statement subtly conveying a powerful message. “Your Love” is a delightfully tongue-in-cheek love songs that describes their relationship during time spent apart when they were still touring separately and their time together. The involving closing songs woven together “Cross the Water / Little Girl” fit nicely in Kallet’s mind, but seem an odd pair to the listener. They are the most “vintage” Kallet on the CD.

    Larsen’s instrumentals contribute just the right texture and spice to the recording. Perhaps the real charm here lies in its gentleness and subtlety. Kallet’s soothing alto voice and Larsen’s impressive versatile musicianship carries you along on a floating musical journey. If the stresses of the world wear you down, relax and recharge by sitting in an easy chair and listening to Kallet and Larsen. No one else in the folk world sounds quite like them.

  • Review of Cross the Water by Bob Blackman of WKAR’s “Folk Tradition”
    Bob Blackman, host of “The Folk Tradition,” on WKAR-FM, East Lansing, 
MI, writes:“I’ve been a fan of both Grey Larsen and Cindy Kallet for a very long time, with well-played copies of their various solo and collaborative projects on my shelves (LPs as well as CDs, mind you!). I never anticipated hearing them work together, though, since I associated Grey primarily with Irish instrumental music and Cindy with her original songs. But when they did become a duo, the combination suddenly made great sense, and I was enthralled when I saw them together in concert, merging their individual styles into an impeccable musical partnership. Their first album, “Cross the Water,” captures all of the charm and beauty that I heard at their concert. If you’re already a fan of Cindy or Grey, or both, you’ll love this CD. If you don’t know either one yet, get this album and make a doubly wonderful discovery.”
  • Reviews for Dark of the Moon
    Grey’s second recording with Paddy League

    • Global Rhythm Magazine, Top Ten, December 1, 2003
      Grey Larsen and Paddy League, Dark of the Moon (Sleepy Creek Music)
      #6 on Global Rhythm’s “Top Ten” CD list for December 2003.
    • Irish Music Magazine, Ireland, March 1, 2004

      by Allison BrockGrey Larsen’s repertoire of Irish music is incomparable. The multi-instrumentalist first picked up tunes from Irish immigrants at sessions in Cleveland in the 1970s. He learned rare jigs and reels from immigrant Michael J. Kennedy (1900-1978), originally from Co. Galway. On Dark of the Moon, one of the best traditional albums of the year, Larsen and partner Paddy League bring this old music back to life. There are tunes originating from Kennedy (Larsen dubs these “crooked” – having extra beats thrown into the structure), possibly close to extinction, if he hadn’t revived them. These sets are a treat for Irish music enthusiasts.

      Larsen, equally comfortable (and talented) on flute, whistle and concertina, is expertly backed by League on bodhrán and guitar. Their musicianship is hard to match, and the variety of instruments keeps things interesting. In a set of crooked jigs, the two tease by switching roles: League begins by briefly picking the tune, playing the melody alongside Larsen on concertina, with Larsen finally taking backseat as accompanist. There are a few slow airs here, too; Larsen performs “The Blackbird” (one of Ireland’s oldest), before breaking into a terrific version of “The Gold Ring” that features cranning techniques on flute. For those inclined to learn, Larsen is publishing some impressive instructional music books from Mel Bay Publications later in the year.

    • The Living Tradition, Scotland, March/April 2004
      by Alex MonaghanFlute and concertina player Grey Larsen is probably best known for his composition Thunderhead. Here he plays mainly traditional Irish material, plus a pair of his own tunes. He’s joined by Paddy League on guitar and bodhrán. In a little under an hour, Larsen and League run through eleven tracks of well-chosen and well-written tunes.
      The opening two sets show the classic Irish untongued flute style, with flashing fingers doing all the work. Larsen gets great tone out of his flute, especially in the lower octave, and his expression is first class. The reels, The Cat that Ate the Candle and John Stenson’s, are deservedly popular, and the Palm Sunday jig that follows is a favourite of mine. Larsen’s smooth, flowing flute contrasts sharply with his punchy concertina style. The Michael Kennedy Jigs set demonstrates percussive playing on concertina, guitar, and of course the good old Irish drum. These tunes have extra or missing beats, an occasional feature of the playing of many older musicians in Ireland and Scotland. I’m not convinced that this wasn’t just a mistake at some point in the past, but it keeps things interesting.The slow air The Blackbird is a corker, played with feeling and finesse on the wooden flute. The change into the pipers’ favourite The Gold Ring is masterful, and the deft bodhrán backing gives this great jig a rare lift. After a few more workmanlike tunes, there’s a charming slow version of the Scottish pipe jig The Drunken Gauger. This is followed by Dowlandesque guitar on a classic slow air, tasteful but palling after three minutes, and then three reels finishing with a nice bouncy romp through The Collier’s. The end game finally reveals the two Larsen compositions. The Slopes of Mount Storm is a delightful waltz, and the traditional jig Hurry the Jug picks up into the very pleasant slow reel which provides the album title. The flute is superb here, deep and resonant. The last track is a trio of jigs: catchy first and fun second, well-known third, again with that earthy flute, a good one for anyone who wants to know the difference between a jig and a slide.Larsen and League show themselves to be a formidable combination on this recording. The melody line is solid and compelling, and the accompaniment is mostly kept well back. This leaves the sound slightly thin at times, but that’s traditional. If you like your music acoustic and unadorned, you’ll find plenty to savour on Dark of the Moon.
    • Sing Out Magazine, Spring 2004

      by R. Weir… Despite opening with a set of fast “crooked reels” (those with extra beats), most of Dark of the Moon unfolds with an unhurried pace and stylings that showcases the musicians’ considerable talents but is never pretentious. Larsen, who is a scholar of music as well as one of North America’s finest Irish flute and whistle players (and Sing Out’s music editor), has mined tunes from various players and regions. For instance, he and League go to Donegal for “Petticoat Loop,” to Cork for the jig “Child of My Heart,” and Galway for “Michael J. Kennedy Schottisches.” For the pure beauty of doing small things well, it’s hard to top the flute/bodhrán duet “The Gold Ring,” Larsen’s amazing breath control on “The Cat That Ate the Candle,” or League’s gorgeous guitar solo on the summer solstice carol “Thugamar Fein an Samhradh Linn.” There are only a couple of Larsen originals, but each is a delight, especially “The Slopes of Mount Storm,” whose gliding flute notes evoke childhood sledding memories. Add some fine harmonium work from Larsen and concertina from both players, and let the quiet music play. The roar will be from applause.

    • Rambles, May 8, 2004

      by Jenny IvorDark of the Moon is an astonishing album displaying the superb talent of Grey Larsen and his accompanist Paddy League. Larsen plays Irish flute, tin whistle, anglo concertina and harmonium; Paddy plays bodhran, guitar and anglo concertina.

      Grey’s skill on the Irish flute is predominant throughout the album, hardly surprising as this skilled musician also is the author of the definitive The Essential Guide to Irish Flute & Tin Whistle from Mel Bay. His passion and affinity with the flute is clearly displayed to advantage and listening pleasure on the 11 tracks of this CD.

      The music is traditional or composed by Larsen and is mainly composed of jigs and reels, with a couple of schottisches and airs. Interestingly, tracks 7-9 are devoid of flute and whistle, featuring concertina, harmonium and guitar instead. The inclusion of “crooked” tunes — ones that feature more (or more rarely, less) beats than the normal structure — is interesting, and Larsen’s theory that much of the older Irish music commonly was crooked and got “tamed” through the years (as other musical traditional and more modern influences altered the structure) makes the listener pause to consider the history of the music being played.

      Larsen’s CD cover notes give a brief history of the tunes and more information can be found at his website. The jigs and reels will set your fingers and feet tapping, and some of the introductions and the airs are exquisitely gentle, graceful and calming. A lovely blend of instruments and tempos, and a grand display of fine musicianship that will never be far from my CD player for long!

    • Jazzreview.com, Jan 7, 2004

      by Mark KeresmanGrey Larsen is an American whiz at traditional Irish folk music, flute & tin whistle division – and if you think this is a set of Irish drinking songs, best get that notion out of your head. This set is entirely instrumental, and Larsen’s tone is as achingly pure and serenely beautiful as Don Cherry’s trumpet or Rahsaan Roland Kirk’s flute, and most of the traditional melodies have a balance of delicacy and durability as Andean, Japanese and West African winds-oriented trad sounds. Dark of the Moon is music that goes straight to the heart without bypassing the mind.

    • World Music Central, October 6, 2003
      Grey Larsen and Paddy League: the Essence of Irish Flute
by A. RomeroBloomington, Indiana, USA – Irish Flutist Grey Larsen has teamed with Paddy League to record a new CD titled Dark of the Moon.Any bird expert will tell you, there is no such thing as a cuckoo’s nest. The cuckoo is one of the few birds that lays its eggs in another bird’s nest and leaves its young to be raised by someone else. Grey Larsen learned the old traditional Irish tune called “The Cuckoo’s Nest” when he himself had fallen into a surrogate nest rich in Irish tradition. Larsen learned the tune in Ohio and transcribed it for his unprecedented 450-plus-page tome The Essential Guide to Irish Flute and Tin Whistle, to be released on November 3, 2003 by Mel Bay Publications.Beginning in the ’50s, a dozen blue-collar immigrants met weekly in Cleveland to play Irish music. Once farmers or coalminers, they came to America for a better life. The Cleveland Irish Musicians’ Club was not a public affair, so it was a bit of a surprise in 1974 when a few longhaired Oberlin students appeared.”When we walked in, there was this stone cold silence,” remembers Larsen. “Politically we were miles apart, but once we started playing together, we became great friends.” The weekly 40-mile trip to Cleveland was when Larsen-whose CD with Paddy League, Dark of the Moon, will be released on Sleepy Creek Music on November 3, 2003-first began his musical migration to the Irish flute. The cuckoo’s nest is like a metaphor for Larsen’s own musical rearing, as if dropped into a nest of Irish immigrants and given the task of preserving old melodies and playing techniques.Larsen learned one tune on Dark of the Moon in 1979 at the home of County Sligo flute player Josie McDermott. “That was my first trip to Ireland and I wanted to learn everything the same way traditional musicians had in the old days,” recalls Larsen. “So I didn’t bring a tape recorder. I thought I could be so focused I would remember it all. Josie McDermott played me these great tunes. But, in the end, I only remembered one. I hummed it to myself over and over as I got a lift on the back of a tractor.” For years Larsen called the tune “Ride on the Tractor.” On the new CD, it is listed as “Josie McDermott’s Reel.”Larsen learned other tunes on the new CD from melodeon player Michael J. Kennedy (1900-1978), a former Irish farmer who settled in Larsen’s hometown of Cincinnati. He gave Larsen his first taste of “crooked tunes” or melodies with extra beats added to their structure. “Crooked tunes are very uncommon in Ireland today,” Larsen explains. “Some of the older players had a lot of tunes like that. I think there was a lot more crooked Irish music 100 years ago. Somehow the music got kind of tamed.”A highlight of Larsen’s new book is the final chapter of 27 transcriptions from some of the most important flute and tin whistle players. Interestingly, both the earliest and latest transcriptions are crooked. The first one, “The Corry Boys” (also on Dark of the Moon), was transcribed from John McKenna’s 78-rpm record issued in 1925. “Fire Patrolman McKenna”-as he’s listed on the first of 30 recordings he made in his adopted home of New York City-established the flute as a prominent instrument in Irish music. The last transcription is of Grey Larsen’s own playing of “The Cuckoo’s Nest”-which he learned from Michael Kennedy.Larsen’s book covers everything from history to playing techniques. But the bulk of it is dedicated to ornamentation, a major element of Irish music critical to the flute player’s unique expression. These embellishments descend from the Irish bagpipes. Since a bellows powered these pipes, the only way to initiate a repeated note was with a special finger articulation. This led Irish pipers to evolve an elaborate vocabulary of fingered embellishments. This language was inherited by the Irish flute and whistle, and never before Larsen has anyone so thoroughly explained on paper the complete range of these ornaments and how to play them. One chapter is dedicated to the artistry of knowing when to take a breath, since, as the only human-blown Irish instruments, the flute and whistle must create breathing places by thoughtfully omitting notes. Larsen combines the highly technical and his spiritual tie to the instrument.”The flute is really magical,” Larsen exclaims. “Your breath is producing the sound. Not wood. Not a metal string. You can’t see what is making the sound. It is very ethereal. It’s such a direct route into your soul.”

    • Slipcue.com, October 20, 2003

      American-born Grey Larsen has written the book on Irish piping and tin whistle playing… literally. This fine all-instrumental album is a companion to Larsen’s new instructional/historical tome, Essential Guide To Irish Flute And Tin Whistle, which may be one of the definitive works on the subject. By itself, however, the album is quite lovely and impressive, a beautiful set of flute and tin whistle tunes, with a grace and melodic depth to match other recent masterpieces such as Joannie Madden’s solo work… A lovely and very listenable set… Highly recommended!

    • Hartford Advocate, Hartford, Connecticut, January 8, 2004

      The story goes like this: In the 1950s, a bunch of ex-pat Irish musicians began to meet weekly in Cleveland to play Irish music. Then, in the 1970’s, a few long-haired music students from Oberlin started to sit in, including Grey Larsen. Larsen’s Dark of the Moon is an homage to the founders of the Cleveland club, a collection of Irish reels, airs and jigs that he learned from the men around the table. Most are performed on the Irish flute, with muscular guitar accompaniment by Paddy League. The flute has such a purity and simplicity of phrasing here, and remains so close to the intimacy of breath, that these songs cut through the buzz of Celtic revivalism straight to the melodic root of the tradition.

    • Musemuse.com, September 20, 2003

      by Ben OhmartNo, it’s not a Pink Floyd tribute cd. It’s Grey Larsen – Irish flute, tin whistle, anglo concertina, harmonium – and Paddy League – Bodhran, guitar, anglo concertina –playing traditional Irish music. The title of the cd, according to Larsen, was so named because his flute tunes are playing in the dark key of G-minor. The dark of the moon period starts the day after the full moon and continues until the day before the new moon. A time of transition. A time to think about the changes in your world and life, and that is exactly what Grey and Paddy are up to. It is not a dark album. There are moments of pensive acoustic guitars and cues to the listener through the concertina which say, “Now stop a minute and consider your gifts.” But any cd that contains the frivolity and good-natured folk of “The Slopes of Mount Storm” (written by Larsen) cannot be conceived as anything dark.

      The highlands have never sounded better in this all-instrumental piece of Celtic gold. It is not meant to be dramatic like Riverdance, it is here for you, whatever your mood, and contains some of the best playing of the genre. I’d like to see this cd spun in every bookstore in the land. Stimulates the need to know.

    • Irish America Magazine, December 1, 2003
      Grey Larsen and Paddy League combine their Celtic music forces for the second album they have released together, Dark of the Moon. The album is dominated by the sweet Irish flute music from Larsen, who although from Cincinnati, is an accomplished Irish flutist. The Oberlin Conservatory of Music graduate recently published a 500 page tome called The Essential Guide to Irish Flute and Tin Whistle. Larsen studied traditional Irish songs with County Sligo flutist Josie McDermott, one of which appears on the album in her name. The stripped down album features the flute and tin whistle as well as the harmonium, bodhrán and guitar. It is a simple record of enjoyable songs that will give you a new appreciation for Irish wind instruments.
    • 1340mag.com, November 25, 2003

      by Keith QuillenGrey Larsen has been involved with Celtic music since his teens when he began to learn the music from Irish immigrant Michael Kennedy in his hometown of Cincinnati. While a student at Oberlin College he listened to and played with members of the Cleveland Irish Musician’s club. Larsen has become one of the most recognized American Celtic music players. Besides being a player of the music he is also a composer, teacher, author of Celtic music guidebooks, and champion of the music and the old traditional players. This is the second album recorded by Larsen and Paddy League, who has since moved on to other musical adventures.

      With League on bodhrán, guitar and concertina Larsen plays traditional Irish tunes on Irish flute, tin whistle, concertina and harmonium. Of the flute Larsen says, it “is really magical. Your breath is producing the sound. Not wood. Not a metal string. You can’t see what is making the sound. It is very ethereal. It’s such a direct route into your soul.”

      This is traditional Irish music played honestly. It’s not heavily produced. The music is the star of the show, but Larsen and League bring it to life. If you like a more traditional sound for this kind of music you will like this CD. If you aren’t familiar with Larsen’s work, I can recommend you give it a try.
      Key Track: Another Jig Will Do/The Ship Doctor/I’m the Boy for Bewitching Them

    • Cleveland Scene, October 23, 2003

      by Frank LewisThe commodification of all things Irish is a relatively recent phenomenon. There was a time, long before Riverdance and U2, when Guinness was hard to find in this country and traditional Irish music even harder. So when Cincinnati native Grey Larsen was studying at Oberlin in the ’70s and wanted to learn traditional tunes, he had to be creative. When he heard that some Irish immigrants gathered in Cleveland every week for a private jam, he started showing up.

      The result was a musical education no classroom could have provided and a passion for the Irish flute. That devotion resonates throughout Dark of the Moon. Perhaps because it’s used less frequently than the fiddle, the flute lends traditional Irish music a slightly different quality — more ethereal somehow, more emotive. Paddy League’s accompaniment on bodhran, the Irish percussive instrument, and guitar is first-rate, but it’s Larsen’s mastery of the flute that makes Dark of the Moon a worthy addition to any discerning fan’s collection.

    • Valley Advocate, Pioneer Valley region, Massachusetts, January 1, 2004,

      by Alistair HighetIn the 1950s, a bunch of expat Irish musicians began to meet weekly in Cleveland to play Irish music. Then, in the 1970’s, a few long-haired music students from Oberlin started to sit in, including Grey Larsen. Larsen’s Dark of the Moon is an homage to the founders of the Cleveland club, a collection of Irish reels, airs and jigs that he learned from the men around the table. Most are performed on the Irish flute, with muscular guitar accompaniment by Paddy League. The flute has such a purity and simplicity of phrasing here, and remains so close to the intimacy of breath, that these songs cut through the buzz of Celtic revivalism straight to the melodic root of the tradition.

    • The Bloomington Herald Times, Bloomington, Indiana, November 16, 2003
      by Andy GrahamShades of Grey:
 Bloomington musician Grey Larsen shows mastery of traditional Irish music in new book, album.Grey Larsen’s new album, Dark of the Moon, reconfirms the man can really play. And the 480-page book Larsen has written that is due in stores later this month, The Essential Guide to Irish Flute and Tin Whistle, should help a lot of others learn how to really play.Larsen, a master musician who has graced the Bloomington scene for most of the past quarter-century, has rarely seemed more active.He continues to serve as a recording and mastering engineer. He teaches. He has an ever-expanding Internet site (www.greylarsen.com, now including a repository of Irish traditional melodies called “The Irish Tune Bank”). He plans to release further publications and CDs in the upcoming year.Larsen also continues his decade-long practice of leading weekly Irish music sessions in Bloomington. The current incarnation is from 6:30 till 9 p.m. Tuesdays at Michael’s Uptown Cafe.”I’m really busy,” Larsen confirmed during an interview at his westside home last week, “and happy about it.”Dark of the Moon is the second straight album Larsen has recorded in tandem with Paddy League, who adds bodhrán (the Irish goatskin-wooden frame drum) and guitar to Larsen’s Irish flute, tin whistle, concertina and harmonium playing.”I’d say it’s more of an upbeat album than its predecessor (2001’s The Green House),” Larsen said. “The repertoire we chose to include lent an overall feeling that is a bit more high-spirited.”Larsen composed the new album’s title track, but said he got the title itself from Joe Dawson, an old-time fiddle player who lives in Larsen’s neighborhood and has taught Larsen “about 100″ Monroe County and Brown County fiddle tunes.”Joe has talked often about the phases of the moon, about how many old folktales there are pertaining to that,” Larsen said. “The gist of it is that during the waning moon – the dark of the moon – things are more stable and settled, and then more volatile during the waxing of the moon.”

      Larsen is accustomed to utilizing what he learns from musical elders such as Dawson. He’s done it his entire career as a Celtic-oriented musician, which started during his teen years in Ohio.

      “I already had access to really good Irish traditional musicians at that age,” Larsen said. “I instantly connected with the music, and felt I had to learn to play it.

      “I was just very lucky to find elderly, expatriate Irishmen to guide me – Michael J. Kennedy in the Cincinnati area and Tom Byrne and Tom McCaffrey in Cleveland.”

      The late Kennedy, born in 1900 in County Galway, was featured in some bonus tracks from the 1970s added to The Green House, and tunes collected from Kennedy adorn Dark of the Moon. “His influence has been a constant thread through all the albums I’ve made,” Larsen said.

      Influences abounded when Larsen moved to Bloomington in 1981, too. He found Dave Molk and Malcolm Dalgish, friends from days at the Oberlin (Ohio) Conservatory of Music. He found Tom Sparks, Dillon Bustin and Chris Smith.

      And he was introduced to Lotus Dickey, the musical/folklore savant from Orange County for whom Bloomington’s Lotus World Music and Arts Festival is named.

      Serving as a co-editor of The Lotus Dickey Songbook was one of Larsen’s first forays as an author. The first of his forthcoming books, The Essential Guide to Irish Flute and Tin Whistle, has occupied a lot of his attention for the past eight years.

      The Essential Guide to Irish Flute and Tin Whistle sports, among other things, two accompanying CDs, 49 ornamentation exercises and 27 transcriptions of recordings by important flute and whistle players from the last century – such as Matt Molloy.
      Molloy was in the Bothy Band, perhaps the most prestigious Irish group of the 1970s, and now plays with an even more legendary aggregation, the Chieftains. Molloy wrote the following for the back cover of Larsen’s book:
      “Grey has, through his research, patience, and diligence, completed a work on Irish flute and tin whistle that I feel is essential for anybody interested in getting it right.”

      Larsen tried to get it right, across the board.

      “There’s a lot of history in the book about the players, the music and the culture,” Larsen said. “It had started out as a book about how to play and how to understand the music.

      “Now, with all the history and transcription and accompanying CDs, I don’t believe there has ever been a book this comprehensive about any instruments in traditional Irish music.”

      Larsen is also issuing, again through Mel Bay Publications, The Essential Tin Whistle Toolbox, a more beginner-oriented work with 160 pages and one companion CD.
      Planned for 2004 release are The Celtic Encyclopedia for Irish Flute and The Celtic Encyclopedia for Tin Whistle, each at about 100 pages, with one CD containing tunes mentioned in the text.

      Larsen figures his books will find some willing readers and students in Bloomington.
      “I think the awareness of Irish music has risen quite a bit here, over the years,” he said. “The number of people learning to play the music has really grown.
      “The scene isn’t competitive, like you might find in cities with a large Irish contingent, but is vibrant and nurturing.”

    Reviews for The Green House
    Grey’s first recording with Paddy League

    • The Living Tradition Magazine, Scotland

      by Gordon PotterGrey and Paddy are American musicians from the Midwest and Washington DC areas respectively, whose various musical influences started at the age of three years old and apparently range from classical, funk rock, rhythm and blues and Greek dance. I say “apparently” because these various strands don’t really make themselves obvious here at all – what we have is Irish music either learned directly from source or from first-generation Irish-American players, with a couple of Grey’s own traditionally-based numbers for good measure. Not that this means the sound is not distinctive – indeed their music strikes the ear immediately as crafted by two masters.

      Grey plays flute, tin whistle, anglo concertina, harmonium, field organ and piano, while Paddy plays bodhrán and guitar. Between them, they play immaculately, with the flute and whistles normally taking the lead, rolling and rippling through the sets with sensitivity and fire, driven and supported by dynamic percussive rhythms which should immediately make all those who tell bodhrán-player jokes hang their heads in shame!
      Jigs, reels, hornpipes, slow airs, you name them, you’ve got them here, all brilliantly interpreted and splendidly executed. Many of the tunes are given an extra freshness by simply shifting the keys from those in which they are normally played, and the only thing you want to do after listening is to play the whole lot over again.

      As a bonus at the end, there are three tracks by the late Michael J Kennedy, a melodeon player who was a great influence on Grey’s early playing, two in which he talks about his own music and memories and one where he plays his unique version of “The Cuckoo’s Nest”.

      This is, quite simply, a gem of a CD.

    • Nova Scotia Kitchen Party, Canada

      Since becoming passionate about Irish music in the early 1970s Grey Larsen has excelled on the Irish flute and also found time to master the tin whistle and concertina. I first became enamoured with his music after listening to his award winning CD collaboration with Quebecois singer/guitarist Andre Marchand entitled The Orange Tree. Larsen’s partner in crime on The Green House, guitarist/percussionist Paddy League, wasn’t even around when Larsen first became enamored with Irish music. Despite his youth, League has made quite a name for himself over the last few years having been featured as a percussionist on over two dozen albums including recent releases by Susan McKeown, John Whelan, Mick Moloney, Bonnie Rideout, and Connie Dover.

      The Green House is essentially a recording featuring Larsen’s lilting flute, whistle and concertina accompanied by League’s percussion and guitar. Larsen’s pace is unhurried and allows the true beauty of each individual tune to unfold. His deliberately slow B-flat version of The Wind that Shakes the Barley and unhurried version of O’Carolan’s Draught are just wonderful. Along the way Larsen also clearly came to understand the deep importance of the roots of Irish music. He illustrates his reverence for those roots with as fully fleshed out set of liner notes as I’ve seen in some time and three bonus tracks from his musical mentor melodeon player Michael J. Kennedy. I found the context provided by Kennedy’s interviews particularly refreshing and hope it becomes standard practice. Amongst lovers of Irish music The Green House and the coupling of Larsen and League will rightly receive comparisons to Clare fiddler Martin Hayes and his musical partnership with guitarist Dennis Cahill. If I had both thumbs The Green House would certainly have them standing upright.

    • The Washington Post

      by Mike JoyceLarsen is a gifted multi-instrumentalist who consistently demonstrates his melodic finesse here. And beginning with the opening reels, it’s clear that he’s found a kindred spirit in League, a young, Washington-bred percussionist and guitarist. As the album unfolds in alternately spirited and soulful fashion, the duo’s close rapport sparks a series of inspired alliances. … an impressive collection of traditional pieces and original compositions.

    • Celtic Connections

      by Bryan Kelso Crow”Beautiful and meticulous work from cover to cover… Even though I tend to pick one track at a time to play on the air, particularly in my monthly roundup of new & recent releases, I can tell that this is an album that needs to be listened to from start to finish as a unified and joyous work!

    • WTJU-FM

      by Pete Marshall[Larsen’s] mastery, particularly on flute & whistle, compares favorably with anything presently emanating from Ireland. … Paddy League … really shines on his bodhran & guitar playing. Put the two of them together, and the chemistry is reminiscent of Martin Hayes & Dennis Cahill. …the quality positively oozes from this package, even before you stick the cd in the player. …the most informative liner notes I’ve ever seen accompanying a celtic music cd. … This cd is a winner in my household…my four year old keeps saying “Put that Irish music cd on, Daddy… I want to step dance to it again”.

    • CD Baby

      by Tamara TurnerThere is a saying within Ireland that there are only two kinds of weather; it’s either raining or it’s going to rain. This Irish trad duo bridges those moody extremes in this intimate album, capturing a colorful range of light and dark from misty, contemplative softenss and heartfelt yearnings to the penetrating sunshine of the jigs and reels that dots the heather-blanketed bogs with lightness and vitality. With delicacy and nimbleness, these two men expressively decorate each piece with their personal touches of ornamentation and delivery. Indulge in this charming and inviting album that covers the entire gamut of Irish flute, tin whistles, Anglo concertina, harmonium, field organ, piano, bodhrán and guitar.

    • Rick Anderson, All Music Guide

      “The respected Irish flutist and concertina player Grey Larsen teams up with guitarist and bodhran player Paddy League on this beautiful and unexpectedly gentle collection of traditional Irish tunes. Usually a program like this, especially when performed by a player of Larsen’s skill, would be a showcase for flashy technique, but he and League take a different tack, treating each tune as a jewel to be polished and presented for its own beauty rather than as a chance to show off. The result is an album of unusual loveliness. Highlights include the opening set of reels, on which League’s bodhran playing is especially impressive and shows the effects of his tabla studies, and a sweet rendition of Turlough O’Carolan’s “O’Carolan’s Draught,” on which the artist plays concertina in a very straightforward, unadorned style. At the end of the disc are three tracks featuring conversation and a performance of “The Cuckoo’s Nest” by the Irish melodeon player Michael J. Kennedy. These last tracks bear no obvious relation to the rest of the album (though Larsen and League do perform “The Cuckoo’s Nest” themselves earlier in the program), but are lots of fun nevertheless. Highly recommended.” [Four stars, out of five.]

    • Martin Hayes, Irish fiddle player

      “Their playing is both authentic and beautiful, the product of artistic humility and insight. Grey and Paddy have found the perfect balance between maintaining tradition and finding their own unique voice.”

    • Anton Emery

      “I would like to say quite simply that is album is superb in every way. Great playing by both Larsen and League. My favorite track is the 11, the medley starting with ‘Sweet Isincara.’ I used to play classical flute in high, and listening to Grey play has inspired me to take it up again, though this time with a simple system irish flute.”I heartily encourage anyone who likes good irish music to get this album. You won’t regret it. It is good duo playing at its finest.”

    • An Amazon.com customer from Bloomington, Indiana, November 24, 2001

      “I grew up listening to Grey Larsen’s traditional music albums such as Banish Misfortune and First of Autumn. What I found in The Green House is something entirely different and beautiful.Larsen and League have done something very unique here in traditional music. Through brilliant performance and production they have incorporated the intimacy of a solo album with the energy and innovation of a “trad band” and the precise evocation of a string quartet. The tracks are mostly in the traditional format of sets of tunes in like form (e.g. jigs), but they go far beyond letting the tunes speak for themselves. They create an entire ambiance of sound in which the tunes live–primarily traditional in instrumentation and performance, but entirely purposeful in their intent and virtuosic implementation.Don’t expect a session tape here. There is nothing informal about The Green House. At times you will be moved to tap your feet or dance, especially as Paddy League rips loose on the goat skin. But you will also be moved into more contemplative moods by Larsen’s masterful interpretation of traditional tunes such as The Wind That Shakes the Barley followed by his own Dusk Among the Willows on track 4.At the end of the CD, after a long gap, there are some old recordings of Larsen and friends interviewing Michael Kennedy, an Irish immigrant and accordion player playing, speaking and singing. These are wonderful in the way they tie the new to the old through Kennedy’s recounts of how he learned his tunes as a boy near the turn of the century in Ireland, especially as we realize that the tune Kennedy plays is also played by Larsen on track 3.

      I highly recommend this album. 5 out of 5 stars. A gem.”

  • Reviews for The Orange Tree, Grey’s first recording with André Marchand

    • Rick Anderson, All Music Guide

      “On its face, this summit meeting between the guitarist and singer for the raucous Québecois folk group La Bottine Souriante and Irish flutist/fiddler/keyboardist Grey Larsen is something of an anomaly. And maybe, despite all the arguments that can be made for the common musical roots upon which these the two players draw, the disparity between their two traditions really is a little bit hard to reconcile. Doesn’t matter. The music they make together on this album is some of the most consistently joyful and lovely you’ll ever hear, even when it’s melancholy and dark (which it isn’t very often). The Orange Tree opens on a high note, with Marchand’s trademark Québecois scat singing, which ripples over the sound of his intricate rhythmic footwork and Larsen’s contrapuntal flute; other highlights include Larsen’s original composition entitled “First Snow” and the brilliant guitar playing that underlies the borderline-atonal melody of Marchand’s “The Waltz of Time Passing.” There are no weak cuts here, and no awkward transitions or insincere gestures. This album can be strongly recommended as an introduction to the work of either artist, and stands with the best traditional recordings of the last 50 years.” [Four and 1/2 stars, out of five.]

    • Tamara Turner, CD Baby

      “Another beautifully chilling album from Grey Larsen that will absolutely stop you in your path! Most certainly, an underground classic and timeless integration of Irish and French Canadian traditional music and song, featuring Quebecois foot-stomping with the heart-swelling wooden Irish flute, concertina, guitar, harmonium, tin whistle, and André Marchand’s spirited vocals/vocables. For folkies, world music buffs and sentimental folk music lovers everywhere, this is an album that will charm and enchant your heart, and likely bring a tear to the eye. A heartrending sanctuary of the human spirit for challenging times.”

    • monkeygod6, an Amazon.com customer from Seattle, Washington, May 13, 2002

      “This CD is a wonderful collaboration between Quebec and Ireland. … Andre Marchand is currently the greatest name in Quebec music. He fronts and plays in many bands and is a great representative of his music. … This CD combines traditional tunes from both cultures with originals written by both Marchand and Larsen and with Quebec folk songs. Instruments include flute, concertina, voice and guitar. The sound is gentle and playful and altogether beguiling. It is immediately accessible to anybody and I recommend it without reserve. The song Qui Me Passera le Bois is especially beautiful.5 out of 5 stars. A wonderful collaboration.”

  • Reviews for earlier recordings with Malcolm Dalglish and Metamora

    • Richard Harrington, Washington Post

      “There’s a rare grace and beauty flowing… Their music is surprisingly delicate… There’s a feeling of expanse, travel, adventure and discovery.”

    • Craig Harris, The Boston Globe

      “Each member is a virtuoso and polished soloist and extremely supportive to each other’s playing… the album’s strength rests in the delicate, but expressive instrumental interplay…”

    • Matthew Barton, The Boston Globe

      “…hammer dulcimer player Malcolm Dalglish and multi-instrumentalist Grey Larsen have put themselves far above other non-traditional folk music interpreters.”

    • Steven X. Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer

      “The ambiance is misty moors and wet, green countryside; the music is stately and beautiful and steeped in quiet reverie.”

    • Daniel Buckley, Tucson Weekly

      “Everything they play has one thing in common: quality. They are musicians of precision, depth, vitality, passion, and, most importantly, humanity.”

    • ericnewhaven, an Amazon.com customer from New Haven, Connecticut, September 15, 2003

      “This album is a true classic. This is a must-have album for lovers of celtic, instrumental, and hammer dulcimer music. With me, as for many early fans, this was the album that introduced me to celtic music.Often labeled as “new age” because “Banish Misfortune” is instrumental, it is a forerunner of that genre. This music is not synthesized or electronic, but instead consists of virtuoso performances of traditional Irish tunes. While this album is melodic, it is not especially mellow. Most of these are dance tunes, and as such are played at dizzying tempos that inspire one to motion more than to meditation. Highly recommended!5 out of 5 stars. A classic!”

    • Miles D. Moore, an Amazon.com customer and Top 500 reviewer from Alexandria, Virginia, August 29, 2000

      “I first heard Malcolm Dalglish and Grey Larsen in a little club in Ohio in the late 1970s, and was a dedicated fan of theirs from then on, up through the time they joined with Pete Sutherland to form Metamora. … Dalglish’s hammer dulcimer playing is exquisite, and Larsen is an expert on virtually every other instrument known to man. Thunderhead is my favorite of all their albums; their trademark combination of airy grace, sinuous melody and poignant harmonies is, to my mind, heard to better effect here than on any other album they ever made (and their other albums are great!).

      5 out of 5 stars. Lovely, fresh, and graceful.”

    • drewster, an Amazon.com customer from Long Island, New York, May 12, 2000

      “I first purchased this album on vinyl way back in the 80’s. Since then, I must have bought at least five more copies, for myself and to give as gifts. It has consistently been among my top ten favorite albums of all time.The music, while “folky,” is also fresh and exhilarating, wonderfully arranged and performed. Malcom Dalglish has a way with the hammered dulcimer equalled by few, and the vocal and instrumental lines often form an intricate tapestry which is truly a delight to hear.If you are at all interested in folk music, or just good music which can stand the proverbial “test of time” I highly recommend this album, as well as all of the Metamora/Dalglish oeuvre.5 out of 5 stars. A real treasure!”

    • an Amazon.com customer from Seattle, Washington, December 5, 1998

      “Dalglish and Larsen were the core that later became Metamora. These are two incredible musicians. Dalglish is one of the best hammer dulcimer players in the world, and combines brilliantly with Larsen’s melodic flute (and other instruments). This is an album I never tire of.5 out of 5 stars. One of the best folk albums of all time.”

    • an Amazon.com customer, November 23, 1998

      “Anyone from the Mpls/St. Paul will be familiar with their song “Little potato,” often played on the am public radio program. This album is a mixture of accoustical and vocal selections perfect for background music. Some of the songs are so outstanding that you may wear out the replay button on your CD. The last track on the album, Endless Chain, recounts the imagined conversations of quilts calling out their names as they flap on the clothesline, richly accompanied by varous strings and dulcimer, which builds to an amazing, layered climax of harmonies and words, much as if all the hands that created the quilts were all in the same room on a phenomenal quilting bee. I cannot properly do it justice, but if accoustical {and augmented} folk is your taste, this album is really worth buying. Mine gets played at least once a week and I’ve had it for years.

      5 out of 5 stars. Indespensible folk selection.”