Martin Hayes (born 4 July 1962) is an Irish Fiddler from County Clare. Hayes was born into a musical family in Maghera, a village in the parish of Killanena in East Co. Clare. His father, P.J. Hayes, was a noted fiddle player and his grandmother played the concertina. His father and his uncle Paddy Canny, also an influential fiddler, were among the founders of the Tulla Ceili Band in 1946. P.J. Hayes led the band from 1952 until shortly before his death in 2001. Martin Hayes started playing the fiddle at the age of seven, taught by his father. At 13 he won his first of six All-Ireland Fiddle Competitions. He is one of only three fiddlers ever to be named All-Ireland Fiddle Champion in the senior division in two consecutive years (1981 and 1982). He joined the Tulla Céilí Band as a teenager and played in the band for seven years. Hayes moved to Chicago in 1985 and became active in the Irish traditional music scene there. He was a regular performer at weekly jam session organized by Chicago fiddler Liz Carroll, who later described him as belonging to “that very narrow set of performers from any musical genre – not just Irish – whose every note is perfect”. In 1993 Hayes moved to Seattle , where he lived until 2005. In 1996 Hayes formed an acoustic duo with Dennis Cahill, developing an “unrushed, lyrical, highly expressive interpretation” of traditional Irish music. Hayes and Cahill have released three recordings on the Green Linnet label: The Lonesome Touch (1997), Live in Seattle (1999), and Welcome Here Again (2008)…. Wikipedia
The Lonesome Touch (1997, Green Linnet #1127) This is the recording that first caught my attention with it’s exquisite sound and the magical interplay of Martin’s fiddle and Dennis Cahill’s guitar accompaniment. This is one of the great musical duos of recent years and here is a clip of the duo in full flight on National Public Radio.
Martin and Denis play music that is solidly in the Irish tradition but it doesn’t stop there. They are continually exploring the boundary’s of their traditions. Here are a couple of examples of recent explorations. The first is an experimental quartet with bass clarinet player Doug Wieselman and viola player Liz Knowles.
“Taking leaps into the unknown and relishing their unpredictability: Martin Hayes’s appetite for collaboration with musicians from across the spectrum of the tradition and beyond is insatiable. His latest project is a head-turner. Prick up your ears and you’ll hear bass clarinet sidling up alongside fiddles (and Dennis Cahill’s guitar) so that tunes intimately known become something new. Opener The Boy in the Gap is a masterclass in interpretation that invigorates a familiar reel. American jazz clarinettist Doug Wieselman and American classical violinist and viola player Liz Knowles are Hayes and Cahill’s dance partners, and the four engage in some fine musical moves. Present here in abundance, as it is in The Gloaming and in the duo’s repertoire, is that stealthy building of a tune: unearthing its melodic essence and letting it blossom slowly, with intent. Circling the tunes are the combined forces of Hayes’s deceptively simple fiddle lines and Wieselman’s intuitive embroidering, the bass clarinet amplifying the internal logic of the tune as if they’ve been lifelong bedfellows. Knowles’s mix of playfulness and counterpoint is a delight throughout. It’s yet another thought-provoking escapade to relish from Hayes”
The second clip was recorded on a trip to India with Sarod player Mathew Noone.