Martin Hayes Quartet review: Beguiling new angles on the tradition
The Blue Room
Martin Hayes Quartet
251 Records in association with NCH
Taking leaps into the unknown and relishing their unpredictability: Martin Hayes’s appetite for collaboration with musicians from across the spectrum of the tradition and beyond is insatiable.
His latest project is a head-turner. Prick up your ears and you’ll hear bass clarinet sidling up alongside fiddles (and Dennis Cahill’s guitar) so that tunes intimately known become something new. Opener The Boy in the Gap is a masterclass in interpretation that invigorates a familiar reel.
American jazz clarinettist Doug Wieselman and American classical violinist and viola player Liz Knowles are Hayes and Cahill’s dance partners, and the four engage in some fine musical moves. Present here in abundance, as it is in The Gloaming and in the duo’s repertoire, is that stealthy building of a tune: unearthing its melodic essence and letting it blossom slowly, with intent. Circling the tunes are the combined forces of Hayes’s deceptively simple fiddle lines and Wieselman’s intuitive embroidering, the bass clarinet amplifying the internal logic of the tune as if they’ve been lifelong bedfellows.
Knowles’s mix of playfulness and counterpoint is a delight throughout. It’s yet another thought-provoking escapade to relish from Hayes.