While I'm on the subject, here's another traditional Irish musician who spent some time in Chicago. Raw, energetic, virtuosic, and beautiful. That's Joe Cooley, and I'd say he is at the heart of Irish music as much as any, and more than most. There is a certain charm to the music he plays, something like the musical equivalent of a wink, that says "well just between the two of us, we know there's more to this stuff than the notes you hear..." And I must admit, this music is magic. Real faerie enchantment here, it'll take you to a land between worlds, make you dance a jig with Puck, and won't let you back till you've merrily kissed the faerie queen. Or it'll make you elbow your neighbor for the bit of naughtiness that slipped through an unassuming trill of notes.
Tony MacMahon, knowing that Cooley was dying from cancer, arranged that famous recording session in Lahiffe's Bar in Peterswell on November 29, 1973, which so enlivens the Cooley album. Accompanying Cooley was his brother Jack on bodhran and banjo player Des Mulkere from Crusheen in Co Clare. Joe Cooley died a month later, in St Luke's Hospital, Dublin, on December 20, 1973. He is buried in Kilthomas Cemetary, Peterswell.
Tony MacMahon recalls Cooley's last session, in Luke Kelly's Bar in Gort:
A small number of people had gathered on a Sunday midday to hear Joe. Des Mulkere and myself helped him to flake out the ould mountain reels, and as the two o'clock closing hour drew on, a number of musicians made their way in from Galway where they had given a concert the night before - there was Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill, a traditional singer of twenty-one, Paddy Glackin, a young fiddle player, and others ... if you should by any chance ever meet them you might detect a lonesome, strong note in their playing: Cooley touched them that day. (from RamblingHouse)At his funeral service in 1974, an oration was given by Tony McMahon, a life-long admirer of Cooley who said that
Joe Cooley was of extreme importance to Irish traditional culture” and that “he was very much part of what Seán Ó Riada called ‘an náisiún Gaelach.’ He was of great relevance to the Irish people and he, as a traditional musician, helped to express extraordinary feelings for the Irish people.” McMahon also said that Joe Cooley could be considered in the same cultural pantheon as Antoine Raifterí, the blind poet who composed folk verses for the people of East Galway in the early 1800s; Garrett Barry, the great Munster piper; and Johnny Doran, the legendary itinerant piper of the 1940s. (from A Tribute to Joe Cooley)Enjoy these rare and cherished recordings of the great accordion player from Peterswell, Co. Galway, made between 1963 and November 1973, a month before Cooley's death.
Joe Cooley - Cooley
nmr | mp3 192kbps | with cover & info | 45mb
and, again, a remarkably accurate tracklist.