from “pure piping” CD notes
It is extremely rare and refreshing nowadays to hear piping in it’s pure state. Many recordings are smothered with excessive overlays of accompaniment. In recent years the level of appreciation of Irish traditional music has risen considerably and I suspect that many students and enthusiasts of the uilleann pipes are eager to hear the instrument without any props, played by a highly skilled and mature piper. In this long awaited CD Leo Rickard has gone for his inspiration back to the old recordings of the masters: Leo Rowsome, Liam Walsh, William Andrews, Liam O’ Flynn, Seamus Ennis and the legendary Johnny Doran and his brother Felix.
Leo started his piping career in 1976 when he enrolled for lessons in the Piper’s club at No. 14 Thomas Street. This was an important link as his tutors Peter and Kevin McKenna were pupils of the celebrated piper Leo Rowsome. The Piper’s Club had links going back to 1900 and miraculously the piping tradition had survived battered but unbroken. Leo enjoyed going to the Club. There was a great atmosphere and the lessons were very good.
Since then Leo has mainly been involved in session work and teaching pipes for Na Piobairi Uilleann, mainly at the Willie Clancy Summer School and regional Tionol.
One of the musical highlights of his career occurred in February 2000, when he was one of the tutors at the Tionol in Wicklow Town to commemorate the great travelling piper Johnny Doran. At the piping concert on Saturday (19.2.2000), Leo gave an outstanding and memorable performance.
In the piping fraternity, Leo Rickard is a highly regarded and respected piper-a piper’s piper. (see the tributes by his peers, Paddy Keenan, and Martin Nolan). He is totally committed to his art and is known for his musical integrity.
This is Leo’s first solo CD and all the tracks are piping classics. Most of the tunes were recorded by the great pipers and a few of Leo’s contemporaries. It is one of the hallmarks of a good musician to be able to play in the different styles and Leo has demonstrated his ability in this regard. He has also added his own personal stamp with subtle variations and tasteful embellishments. There are many gems on this CD but my favourites are “The Fairies Revels” selection with the Rowsome style of regulator playing and the Johnny Doran touches in the “Job of Journeywork” set dance.
So if it’s uncluttered piping by a great piper you are looking for, this is it!
8th September 2000
* His good friend Kevin Thompson of Malahide, Co.Dublin made both sets of pipes- the concert set in 1980 and the flat set in 1999.