Anyone with even a passing interest in Irish music will be aware of the excitement surrounding new Irish group, The Gloaming. The group is made up of a number of well known Irish traditional musicians (Martin Hayes, Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh, Iarla Ó Lionaird) and two Americans; Hayes’ long time collaborator, Denis Cahill and the New York based pianist, Thomas Bartlett.
They perform beautiful, ground breaking, unique music which, although heavily steeped in the tradition of Irish tradition, could not have been made without the curiosity and courage necessary to step outside its walls.
The courage to break down the silos seems to have initially come from Denis Hayes – “I had to play music that I knew he couldn’t like,” he says in reference to his father PJ, a well known Irish fiddler. “I had to approach it in ways that some people would find it offensive”. On making music in modern world; “You can’t be self-referential all the time. It has to reference itself against other music. The reality is that we do exist in the wide open world.”
This openness and curiosity put Hayes in touch with Thomas Bartlett, pianist (who has played with artists as diverse as Rufus Wainright, David Byrne, Norah Jones and The National), writer and producer.
Bartlett, in reference to the lines and rules that are so visible to those steeped in tradition say; “Maybe the reason this works so well is that I don’t recognise the lines that they do”. “It is so hard when you are so aware of what is meant to be done. The fact that I have absolutely no idea of what needs to be done makes them disappear”
A number of these quotes rang true for me in the context of an approach that seems essential for anyone trying to forge new ground in an environment that is deeply conservative and closed to outside influence (like medicine).
Unique and unexpected resonances can often occur at the interfaces of seemingly disparate worlds.
Ring the bells
That still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack
That’s how the light gets in.