Time To Time
Occasionally something hits you unexpectedly, it is
fresh, new and demands your immediate attention.
Combining the pulse of traditional music with the swing of Jazz and the grace of the Baroque comes Time to Time.
Based in Paris, Time to Time is a quartet playing Irish traditional music in a sweet flowing style. Echoing the styles of East Galway and Clare, they eschew the speed demon approach for the laid back, spacious treatment of the music in which the spaces between the notes can shine and speak their truth with a quiet yet thorough resonance.
Time to Time's debut album entitled 'Time To Time' finds a band who know the roots of their music and the manner in which and how it deserves to be best treated. Their playing is concise and sharp as befits players that have passed through the mill and earned their interpretative stripes, yet there is an element of surprise, which sets them apart from their contemporaries. Using the line up of fiddle, accordion, melodeon, guitar and cello the music while sweet and sprightly is underscored with the right amount of dramatic undercurrents. The cello drone provided by GaŽlle Branthomme adds a Baroque feel and crosses the stylistic bridge between Traditional Folk and Classical Music.
Individually, Time to Time is comprised of fiddler Sophie Bardou, cellist and vocalist GaŽlle Branthomme, Jean-Paul Moreau on accordion and melodeon and guitarist Ronan Yvon. Sophie Bardou has played Classical violin since the age of seven and attended courses in traditional Irish fiddle playing at the Willie Clancy Summer School, concentrating on the style peculiar to County Clare. Cellist and vocalist GaŽlle Branthomme discovered traditional Irish and Breton music after completing her studies of the baroque and modern cello, and getting a degree in musicology. Accordionist Jean-Paul Moreau's introduction to Irish music came listening to a record by Paddy O'Brien from Nenagh. Guitarist Ronan Yvon is a recent convert to Irish Music having previously specialized in Jazz and Gypsy Music. Time to Time's musical experience covers everything from Classical to Jazz and Folk Music but their collective heart finds itself in East Galway and Clare, and music of the 1960's.
What was so special about the music of East Clare and East Galway that made Time to Time want to specialise in it? Founder member Jean-Paul Moreau replies-'Well I guess it is the way music was introduced to us. In Brittany, they have strong connections with Northern Ireland, here in Paris; the Clare people have taught us music. Having Gearoid O'hAllmhurain for a while was a gift, then Pat O'Connor came over, so we have had the chance to play all the tunes Gearoid had left again. Moreover, I have friends in Ennis, and this place is packed with geniuses. But we have listened to music from all the parts of Ireland, and ours hearts really go to Clare and Galway music. It is hard to say why, I guess it is the apparent simplicity of it, each note is filled with feelings so all the tunes have a dark side and some jubilation as well. It is music for the mind really. I admire the ability Clare musicians have to transmit their feelings to the tunes, and the way they make the tunes get into your head and talk to you. Yeah really, it is a language. Usually in traditional dance music, your feet benefit from the rhythm, but with Clare music your spirit surely gets its share'. Time to Time formed a year and a half ago; they made their debut on St. Patrick's Day 2003. 'GaŽlle and I got the idea of playing together in Ennis, during the Trad Festival. We were attending a beautiful session of Clare music, and as we couldn't bring all the musicians back home, we tried to catch their mood, and use that gorgeous musical gift as a slope for our own music' JP explained.
'I've known Sophie for years. We've always followed
the same way music-wise. So when we were asked to do a concert at the very last
minute, we naturally got together along with GaŽlle, who is new to Irish traditional
music but already hooked on Clare music. But we thought just the three of us
was a bit short for a concert, so as Sophie plays Jazz with Ronan, she introduced
us to that skillful guitarist for the gig. It turned out that Ronan and GaŽlle
had the same harmonies in mind, and Sophie and myself had the same repertoire
from the great time we've had when Gearoid O'hAllmhurain was in Paris, so we
decided to keep playing that way'
Time To Time's deliberately measured style of traditional music has found a ready audience who approve of their approach. 'Well we were surprised that they immediately loved it. The trend towards Irish music in France was at faster paces, and modern tunes, so we expected to play no more than once or twice a year.
Shortly after that first gig, we had the opportunity to be recorded in Gennevilliers by a friend of ours who has a great ear for acoustic music, and does wonders with just a couple of mics. We had the CD ready for a concert in Tatihou (Normandy) and then in Amsterdam, and we sold just every copy we had brought. We never expected it. From then on, it's been the same.
We've never been asked to play faster, and people thank us for getting to hear all the notes. That's why we always tell them during gigs that this musical approach isn't new at all, that it existed in Ireland, and still does, played by great musicians, most of them in Clare. They are too numerous to be named, but let's say all of the older generation, and Murty Ryan, Derek Hickey, Liam Lewis, Geraldine Clancy, Josephine Marsh, Claire Keville, Michelle Powderly, Pat O'Connor, Michael Rooney, our French fellows Patrick Ourceau or Olivier Rozent, and many others. These people really get the tears out of you when they play, without any tricks...just notes'.
Choosing the material for 'Time to Time' was a relatively
easy task. 'As we have the same background Sophie and me, we took tunes from
it, from the time Gearoid was in Paris, from the time Pat O'Connor was in Paris,
and from the huge stock of tapes I have. I tend to tape everything I can, so
I remember coming home from Ireland with 30, 40, or even 50 tapes! It is very
important for me, as every session is unique. In addition, Sophie has great
'kitchen' recordings of Paddy Canny, Bobby Casey, and Joe Ryan. Therefore, we
really wanted to play these tunes again. That was for the start, and now we
focus on the gorgeous compositions of Paddy O'Brien, Sean Ryan, Paddy Fahy,
and Ed Reavey. What these musicians have done is priceless, and it will take
more than a lifetime to catch the tiniest crumb of their music. So really, if
you take the music from the 50's and the 60's, there is a lot to be done'.
The use of the cello for accompaniment which is one of Time to Time's main attractions was purely accidental - 'We wanted to know what the music we listen to mostly (from the 50's and 60's) would sound like if these musicians had met a manouche guitarist and a cello player instead of a piano player. Not that we don't like piano accompaniment, just pure curiosity, the great majority of recordings featuring piano. I have the same curiosity with harp and play a lot with Bťnťdicte Riou as a duet in dance music, jigs and reels and hornpipes. So it is true, the sound you get with a cello (or harp) is quite different from the one you expect when you see 'Irish music' advertised, but from a musician's point of view, it is not the instrument that matters. It is what we want to do with the music that got us to meet, whatever the instrument. We didn't plan the thing. The musicians met, and they brought along their instruments. It could have been three Bb pipes and a harpsichord, but it happened to be fiddle/box/guitar and cello' JP stated.
Making another CD is part of the Time to Time game
plan -'Oh yes, absolutely. The first was made when the band was young. Our sound
is more mature now, we got used to each other's phrasing, and on that, you can
really tell the difference. Plus, there are so many great tunes we like to play.
We all agree that it'll be time soon to sit for recording, to have something
more representative of what we do live'.
Time to Time pays tasteful homage to the traditional masters in an appreciative manner. Thanking the old masters Paddy Canny, Bobby Casey, Junior Crehan, Kitty Hayes, Joe Ryan, and younger musicians the link between the old style and the new is re-enforced. Encountering Time to Time is a wonderful experience.
© John O'Regan August 2004 for print media use only-electronic media use by author's permission only.
CD review :
TIME TO TIME
TIME TO TME
This is wondrous as much as it is beautifully unexpected.
Every decade since the 1970's, a cosmopolitan French band has emerged playing
Irish music with skill and dexterity. Gwendal headed the cast in the busy fusion
packed mid '70's, while Shamrock won the Fleadh Cheol in 1985 and Dirty Linen
and Taxi Mauve hit the deck in the '90's.
Now it is Time to Time's turn - Time to Time is based in Paris but their heart is in East Galway. They are a quartet of Jean-Paul Moreau on accordion and melodeon, Sophie Bardou on fiddle, guitarist Ronan Yvon, and GaŽlle Branthomme on cello and vocals.
That's right a cello and that is part of Time to Time's
charm and their secret weapon.
Their debut album 'Time to Time' was recorded live in Gennevillers Concert Hall in July 2003 and it is a beauty. The pace is deliberately slow and conscious as befits the music of East Clare and Galway and the mix of guitar, accordion, fiddle, and cello is uniquely soulful and compact. 'Martin Wynne's' is a gorgeous sloping opener with Sophie Bardou's fiddle leading the way and delicate guitar and accordion joining in and the cello make the final mark. 'The House in the Glen' is surefooted and secure, while 'Ashokan Farewell' displays a command of mood and texture. Cello and guitar take the lead on 'Mother's Delight' adding a baroque feel, while GaŽlle Branthomme's vocals on 'She Moved Through The Fair'' are suitably doleful. While Time to Time evoke the golden era of Irish Music (20's) as their starting point-they are an invigorating modern Irish band -full of quality musicianship and choice moves. The results are here and they are a joy to behold.
© John O'Regan -July 2004 for print media use only. Electronic media use by author's permission only.