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Recorded at the Tractor Tavern on 31 January, 1999, this long-running fiddle and guitar duo set out to capture the intimate and informal advantages of a small club within the concert hall environment. The Tractor seems to lie midway between the two--its audience a well-behaved (but still enthusiastic) bunch. Most of the pair's repertoire comes from the eastern regions of Eire's County Clare, where Hayes grew up. Martin might currently reside in Seattle, but he can already boast six triumphs as All-Ireland fiddle champion. Cahill hails from Chicago (where the two first met), and is equally fluent in the languages of rock, jazz and classical music. The central stretch of this album is its 28-minute second track, a seamless sequence of 11 tunes. Mournful notes are held in the air, all the better to be savoured, mulled over and otherwise swished around the mouth. The highly evocative melodies unfold in slow motion, gradually introducing each new theme. Cahill will momentarily sit out, Hayes speeding up his flow, with most of the action springing from the latter's strings while Dennis shades, underlines, echoes or simply steps up the rhythmic pace. --Martin Longley