Leo Rowsome, Classics Of Irish Pipering

Steve Hochman

By Steve Hochman

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
The Hendrix of the Uillean pipes.

The way Charlie Christian, Les Paul and Jimi Hendrix revolutionized the guitar, Irish icon Rowsome broke the mold for Uillean pipes, the series of drones and chanters powered by a bladder squeezed under arm (rather than blown into a la Scottish Highland bagpipes). And unlike the axemen, he didn't even have to electrify his instrument. These recordings from the ’20s, ’30s and ’40s are astonishing for Rowsome's virtuosity and imagination in renditions of tunes collected from throughout the Emerald Isle. The jig "Gillians Apples," the reel "The Sligo Maid" and others may sound familiar to anyone with the slightest acquaintance with Irish music, but if you've never heard them played by Rowsome, you've never heard them like this.