Over the past ten years, Ross Ainslie, Dónal O’Connor, Jack Talty and Jim Murray have been at the forefront of highly creative Scottish and Irish music-making – as players, composers, arrangers, accompanists, producers and record label owners. Their individual talents as working musicians have seen them initiate hundreds of thoughtful and innovative projects, their virtuosity and profound understanding of the music underpinning any daring off-piste exploration they might undertake. Add to that a sharp intelligence and gentle curiosity about where this music sits in the world, how it relates to the world outside, and you have a quartet of artists who have made a massive contribution to music, in both local and international arenas. Thrilling, soulful, sincere and highly communicative, the creative output of this brand new collaboration will include a new Music Network commission from all four performers that promises to be a music of people and place, of confluence, and of us.
Ross Ainslie, pipes / whistles
Dónal O’Connor, fiddle
Jack Talty, concertina
Jim Murray, guitar
Presented by Music Network
Ross Ainslie is one of Scotland’s finest traditional musicians and composers, playing pipes, whistles and cittern. He is renowned for his highly acclaimed solo material, and as a skilled performer and prolific collaborator who performs regularly with bands Treacherous Orchestra (of which he is a founding member), Salsa Celtica, Dougie Maclean, Ali Hutton, Jarlath Henderson, Charlie Mckerron, India Alba and has performed with Kate Rusby, Blue Rose Code, Zakir Hussain, Trilok Gurtu, Capercaillie, Shooglenifty, Carl Barat, Papon, Karsh Kale, Flook, Breabach, Soumik Datta, Tim Edey, Patsy Reid, Hamish Napier.
Prestigious industry recognition has come in the form of a multitude of awards:
- Won Best Duo at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards with Ali Hutton in 2017 and Nominated for the same award in 2018
- Nomination for Musician of the Year at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards in 2013, 2016 and 2018
- Nomination for Best Duo at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards with Jarlath Henderson in 2014
He’s also received various awards at the Scots Trad Music Awards
- Nomination for Instrumentalist of the year in 2010
- Nomination for Live Act of the year with Jarlath Henderson in 2008 and with Treacherous Orchestra in 2009 and 2010
- Nomination for Album of the year in 2013
- Treacherous Orchestra won Album of the year in 2015
- Ross was also Composer of the year in 2015
- His debut album ‘Wide Open’ was voted 9th out of 50 Top Scottish Albums of 2013 in the Sunday Herald
Son of the celebrated fiddler Gerry O’Connor (Skylark, Kinvara) and renowned singer Eithne Ní Uallacháin (Lá Lugh), Dónal O’Connor has inherited a great musical legacy of at least five generations of fiddle playing. Highly regarded as a fiddle player, he was asked, at the tender age of twenty one, to take part in the prestigious ‘Music Network Tour of Ireland’ alongside Scottish Guitarist Tony McManus, Fermanagh purveyor of song Gabriel McArdle and Belfast Piper John McSherry (Lúnasa, Coolfin, Tamalin).
“O’Connor’s winning blend of pace and lyricism transmits his enthusiasm for the music directly to the listener with irresistible impact” – Herald Scotland
Dónal’s playing was described recently by The Irish Times as “immaculate”, “electrifying” and “…borne out of naked talent and consummate professionalism…”, and by The Scotsman as “exquisite”. He has toured Europe and the USA extensively from a young age as both a lead and backing instrumentalist with a number of bands including Lá Lugh.
Regarded as “one of the outstanding players of his generation” by J.B. Vallely, recent collaborations have included tours with Lúnasa, Guidewires, Buille and Cathal McConnell, television performances with The West Ocean String Quartet and the legendary Sligo Flute player Séamus Tansey, recording with Brian Kennedy and Moya Brennan of Clannad and festival appearances with Liam Ó Maonlaí and the Steve Cooney Big Band.
Despite a hectic touring schedule, Dónal found time to produce Gerry O’Connor’s long awaited solo album ‘Journeyman’, which was released in the Autumn of 2004 to great critical acclaim.
“rhythmic, trance-inducing fiddle work” – popmatters.com
Dónal has also presented a number of music programmes on BBC Radio Ulster and was the presenter of BBC Northern Ireland’s excellent 10-part music series ‘An Stuif Ceart’. Described as a rare musical treat, the series incorporated an eclectic mix of talent with such luminaries as John Prine and Henry McCullough alongside the cream of Irish talent. More recently Dónal recorded ‘Tripswitch’ with John McSherry. Described as ‘Acoustic Perfection’ by Living Tradition and ‘Medicine for the soul’ by The Irish Music Magazine, Folk Roots said “There’s probably not been such an innovative album released on the green island since Lúnasa’s The Merry Sisters of Fate and Tripswitch probably shatters more boundaries.”
Currently a member of the much acclaimed At First Light, Dónal collaborated with John McSherry and the legendary American slide guitarist Bob Brozman, to release ‘Six Days in Down’ in October 2010. Influential BBC broadcaster DJ Ritu, has described the album as: “One of the most impressive CDs to fly through my letter-box this year”, while Ian Kearney of fRoots Magazine has deemed the album “a joyous fusion whilst”, Siobhan Long of The Irish Times giving the album a four-star rating, heralding it as a “Strapping collection of tunes”.
“O’Connor’s bowing is beautifully economical, a pleasure to watch as well as to listen to,” – Journal of Music
Jack Talty is a traditional musician, producer, and composer from Lissycasey in county Clare. As a performer, Jack has toured extensively throughout Ireland, Europe, the United States, Asia, and Australia, and has contributed to over 70 albums as a performer, producer, composer, arranger, and engineer. In 2011, he founded the record label, Raelach Records and in 2013, co-founded the award-winning Ensemble Ériu with schoolmate Neil Ó Loclainn. The ensemble’s latest recording Stargazer, an album of original music inspired by the work of Jack B. Yeats, was released by Diatribe Records in 2017, and was listed third in Songlines’ top essential Irish albums of all time. In 2011 Jack released Na Fir Bolg, a duet album with concertina player Cormac Begley, and in 2016 he released his début solo recording, In Flow. He also performs regularly with Dave Flynn’s Irish Memory Orchestra. Jack is a BMus and BA graduate of University College Cork, where he was awarded the Seán Ó Riada Memorial Prize and the Mary V. Hart Memorial Prize. In October 2019 Jack was appointed Traditional Artist in Residence at University College Cork and he is currently working on an audio-visual installation project with photographer and filmmaker Maurice Gunning as Clare Arts Office Creators in Residence at the Irish Traditional Music Archive. In February 2019, Jack was appointed as research consultant with the newly-established Trad Ireland.
Jim Murray is one of Ireland’s finest guitarists. Jim’s formidable reputation has been established as a player of traditional music – both as a melody player and as an accompanist.
Born into a musical family, Jim’s early years were spent immersed in Irish music. Throughout his childhood, Jim who hails from Macroom in West Cork performed with various groups including his father’s celidh band.
Having finished school, Jim formed his own band at the age of eighteen and performed around the local Irish circuit. Two years later in 1998, Jim began his professional career being invited to tour Japan and Australia with accordion legend Seamus Begley whilst also in the same year, touring America with piano accordion ace Alan Kelly. In 1999 Jim was invited to become guitarist with world renowned Irish musician Sharon Shannon.
To this day, Jim remains Sharon’s “right hand man” having recorded and toured with her over five continents. He also released two critically acclaimed albums with long term partner Seamus Begley in 2001 and 2008 which collectively scooped many prestigious awards such as The Irish Times and Hotpress Traditional Irish Music Album of the Year. Since Jim’s arrival on the world stage, he has gained the respect of both national and international musicians and has performed and recorded with artists such as Sinead O’Connor, Steve Earl, Shane McGowan, Altan and Mary Black to mention but a few.
Jim continues to tour and record with an array of artists while basing himself in West Cork.