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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

Compared to the fiddle, flute, and harp, the acoustic guitar is a relative newcomer to Celtic music, but the skill and musicality of Scottish guitarist Tony McManus make it sound as though the instrument's history stretches back centuries rather than mere decades. On "i"Ceol More, McManus joins bassist Ewan Vernal for a collection of Irish, Scottish, Breton, and Québecois tunes that gently stretch the harmonic and rhythmic boundaries of the music while staying true to the shape of the ancient melodies. By subtly playing with the arrangements of familiar tunes, he recasts them in a new image. His version of "The Old Bush" takes a lively, even jolly reel, then slows the tempo down until it takes on a melancholy air. And when he steps outside the Celtic tradition on the 17th-century Hebrew hymn "Shalom Aleichem" and the Charles Mingus jazz classic "Goodbye Porkpie Hat," he reveals his musical imagination can encompass more than just jigs and reels. Tony McManus has accompanied such musicians as Kate Rusby, Alasdair Fraser, and Liz Doherty in the past, but the sheer beauty of his guitar playing on "i"Ceol More shows he's more than ready to set out on his own. --Michael Simmons

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