MP3 sound clips, & /or Standard
interview with Jerry
Jerry Holland and John
Review Sean Smith special to The Bir
No way. No way
could this CD live up to expectations, right? Right. It
exceeds them. This is, after all, the very last recording
made by Brockton native Jerry Holland, completed only a
few weeks before his death from cancer this past July.
And it's an equally valuable keepsake of an all-too-rare,
but memorable partnership between two icons of
traditional music (whose last appearance together,
appropriately enough, was at the 2008 ICONS Festival).
So, yes, there's a certain poignancy to this affair, but
"Helping Hands" is anything but funereal and grim
&endash; more like two friends who simply wanted to put
aside whatever forebodings might have been lurking at
that time, and enjoy being together. It shows:
The playing is
exuberant and buoyant by turns, as well as passionate and
sensitive. The tunes cover a wide range of time and
territory in Holland's life &endash; "My Cape Breton
Home," "All My Friends," "Lumber Camp Waltz," "Tears,"
"Angus Chisholm's Favorite" among them &endash; and while
a number of them were on previous recordings, they're
given an exciting freshness by John Doyle's
accompaniment; you've really never heard them like this
The liner notes written
by Holland offer additional enjoyment, lending insight to
the significance each tune had for Holland, whether
traditional or contemporary, or one of his own
compositions. These include a few references to Holland's
Boston connections: He credits the slow air and reel "She
Put Her Knee of the Old Man" to Bill Lamey, whose weekly
Cape Breton dances in the Orange Hall of Brookline were
foundational to Holland's musical education, for example.
"Larry Reynold's Fancy," meanwhile, is the jig Holland
com-posed for Boston's much-revered Irish music stalwart,
a long-time friend of Holland and his family. We also
learn from the notes that the album's titletune was one
of Holland's last compositions &endash; "just a tune for
everybody, all the fine folks who have been helping me
out in different ways the past few years."
Listening to him play
here, it seems unfathomable that his life was so near the
end. But "Helping Hands" is yet another reason why Jerry
Holland's legacy has only just begun.