Louis Stewart and Noel Kelehan: Some Other Blues – A deep musical friendship given glorious voice

Livia label’s second offering post-reactivation is treasure of a different hue – a never-released duo recording of noted guitarist with pianist

Some Other Blues
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Artist: Louis Stewart and Noel Kelehan
Genre: Jazz
Label: Livia Records

The rediscovery of the archive of Livia Records, the jazz label set up by the Dublin painter and gallerist Gerald Davis in the 1970s, rates as one of the musical finds of the decade. That such a trove of wonderful music has survived, documenting the playing of the great Louis Stewart and his contemporaries, is miraculous, confirmation of the genius of a guitarist who has perhaps been more talked about than listened to over the years since his death, in 2016.

The first release from the revivified label was, appropriately, Stewart’s solo masterpiece Out On His Own, but while that recording was already admired by guitarists around the world, Livia’s second offering post-reactivation is a treasure of a different hue – a never-released duo recording that matches Stewart with his great friend Noel Kelehan, the pianist.

Best known outside jazz circles as RTÉ’s long-standing Eurovision conductor, Kelehan was a key figure in the development of Irish jazz (and of Stewart’s own career) and one of the few who could live with the guitarist, musically speaking.

On a set of their favourite standards (and one elegant Kelehan original), recorded in August 1977, the pair play with a brilliance and confidence undimmed by time. Alongside the near perfection of the performances and the pristine quality of the remastered analogue recording, the abiding impression is of a deep musical friendship given glorious voice. It is finally available for new generations to marvel at.

Cormac Larkin

Cormac Larkin

Cormac Larkin, a contributor to The Irish Times, is a musician, writer and director