Nightnoise started as a partnership between Irish traditional musician Mícheál Ó'Dómhnaill and American violinist Billy Oskay in 1983 when Mícheál moved to Portland, Oregon. A demo tape recorded by Oskay was turned into the album Nightnoise. The success of this album lead to the formation of the band, with the addition of Mícheál's sister Tríona and flutist Brian Dunning. Oskay left the group after their fourth album and was replaced by Johnny Cunningham.

Their music is a fusion of jazz, traditional Irish, and impressionistic chamber music, mostly written by the group's members. In most pieces, the celtic influences are subtle, with some traditional tunes standing out. The overall impression is of graceful, polished playing and a mellow, but not stagnant atmosphere, occasionally almost Enya-esque. For a choice of album, apart from Nightnoise, which I haven't heard, there's not a great deal between them, but if pressed I'd probably pick The Parting Tide or the current release, Shadow of Time.

The group is based in Portland, Oregon and regularly tour in the US (check the listings for current schedule info). They also are featured in the Windham Hill Records Web site, including sound samples for "Night in that Land" (from Shadow of Time) and "The Cricket's Wicket" (from Nightnoise).


Irish brother and sister Mícheál and Tríona are veterans of the classic group the Bothy Band, as well as Skara Brae and Relativity. Both have had other collaborations: Tríona with Touchstone, Mícheál with Kevin Burke. Billy Oskay is a classically-trained violinist and son of a violin-maker. Fiddler Johnny Cunningham has been a major player on the Scottish traditionalmusic scene, as founding member of Silly Wizard, in collaboration with his brother Phil and with Phil and the Ó'Dómhnaills in Relativity. Brian Dunning has played classical and jazz flute in Ireland, moving into traditional music in Puck Fair a collaboration with bodhran player Tommy Hayes, and then to Nightnoise.


(all on the Windham Hill label)
1984    Nightnoise                                      WD 1031
1987    Something Of Time                               WD 1057
1988    At The End Of The Evening                       WD 1076
1990    The Parting Tide                                WD 1097
1992    Nightnoise: A Windham Hill Retrospective        01934 11111-2
1993    Shadow of Time                                  01934 11130-2
1995    A different Shore                               01934 11166-2
The retrospective contains a mix of tracks from the first four albums and the track "Nollaig" from the album "A Winter's Solstice" (WD 1045, 1985).


CD Universe has most Nightnoise albums for sale online at a pretty good price, as well as extensive sound samples in RealAudio format.

Copyright (c) Ceolas, 1994, 1995, 1997

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