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Ryan and Brennish


J P Cormier, Heart and Soul CD


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J P Cormier Heart & Soul

by Ryan Thomson

J P Cormier fits into the category of "virtuoso fiddler." Many professional musicians can play

easy pieces and make them enjoyable to listen to. J P (may I call him that?) plays difficult

pieces and makes them enjoyable to listen to. To the average listener the technical

difficulty of a violin piece is irrelevant, as long as its enjoyable to listen to. The reason I'm

dwelling upon this distinction though, is that J P Cormier should get public credit for his

exceptional proficiency on the violin.

In this collection he presents mostly Cape Breton canadian tunes, but also some United

States style bluegrass and "contest fiddling." He acknowledges influence from Kenny Baker

and Bill Monroe with some fine fiddling on the tunes: Twinkle Twinkle; Calgary Polka; and


He plays a number of lively canadian tunes that he uses for square dances, including the

jigs: Angus Chisholm's; Little Judique; Betty Anne's jig; Max MacDonald's jig; and Sheldon

MacNeill's Reel by Raymond Ellis.

I'm assuming that he comes from a strong classical violin background due to several clues

on this CD: his violin technique; the inclusion of J. S. Bach's Prelude in A minor as an

introduction to the tunes The Earl of Hyndford and Everybody's Hornpipe; and the kind

words in his liner notes about Martin Hayes in which he describes him as "just one more of

the many fine people I've met through trying to be a fiddler." (J P plays a couple of tunes

from Hayes's repertoire: The Whistler from Rossiea; Connor Dunn's; and the Good Natured

Man) I've had many classically trained musicians who have become interested in fiddle

music tell me that they are "trying to be fiddlers." Well, J P has obviously arrived, and then


Again, this may not have particular relevance to the average listener, but since the

reviewer is a serious fiddler and fiddling teacher himself, I study the ways in which

musicians get from point A to point B in their playing ability. Fiddle students pay

attention! Listen to this CD. Of course any listeners to fine fiddle music will want to add

this album to their collection as well.

Did I mention that J P Cormier also plays great banjo and guitar? He plays a piece entitled

"Banjomusk," in which he does a medley of the Cape Breton tune Dinky's, and an uptempo

version of the Scottish tune Money Musk in a way similar to how we play it in New England

for contra dances. His fingerpick guitar playing shines in his treatment of a Sharon Shannon

accordion medley which he has transposed over to fiddle and guitar. The piece is entitled

Fleetwood Macinnis and includes the traditional tune Cry of the Eagle, and Never go Back

Again by Lindsay Buckingham.

There's more good stuff here: the french Hangman's Reel, strathspeys, pretty waltzes, and

some original reels, but you'll just have to get this CD to find out for yourself!

Written by Ryan Thomson, 1999