With a mix of courtly and spirited dance numbers, the depth and skill of these two players is matched only by their obvious love and respect for the traditional music they play. Both world-renowned virtuosos on their respective instruments, accordionist Jeremiah McLane and fiddler Ruthie Dornfeld can play anythingofrom French Musette, Irish reels, Argentine tangos, to Cajun two stepsoit makes no difference. Each style and composition is approached with the same fire and passion, often with the vigor evident as a hummingbird flaps it’s wings (the inspiration for the title perhaps?). Unless youive access to a time machine, youire not likely to find more satisfying renditions of these beautiful traditional tunes.
—Oct/Nov 2003 #108
Though Hummingbird was created by two people playing a total of four instruments I find myself piling on the adjectives when writing about it-exciting, uplifting, varied, precise, happy even when played in a minor key. Jeremiah McLane and Ruthie Dornfeld are an incredible blend of energy, musicianship and writing talent. They even look happy. Other than three traditional tunes and contributions by Patrick Desaunay, Frederic Paris and Jean Blanchard, the music is original, but there’s an old world flavor of tradition and location held within each tune. Hummingbird takes me into many moods, countries, colors and rhythms. It’s like watching people of many cultures celebrate and dance. When reviewing music I feel obligated to listen carefully at least three times. After hearing Hummingbird twelve or more times I still want to listen again.
—Barbara Metcalf for Victory Music.
Accordionist Jeremiah McLane from Vermont, well known at the stages of St Chartiers and Gennetines (France) has produced a duo CD iHummingbirdi with the brilliant fiddler Ruthie Dornfeld. My friends the chemistry is magic from the first note. The exploration of styles and of music: Irish, Old Time, Cajun, Quebecois, French (center and musette) Danish and Hungarian, where the improvisations and the jazzy colors blend with a joyousness and force, with a resonant sound and rare emotionO.and just like the Hummingbird they collect the nectar in all the music they enjoy, a repertoire that is eclectic yet always coherent. They give dance music an esthetic sensibility without distorting it. The majority of selections are compositions from McLane and Dornfeld. There are also three traditional selections: Vals a Lienver (Frederic Paris), La Coulemelle (Jean Blanchard) and Argenteuil (Patrick Desaunay). All in all a stirring and beautiful tribute from across the Atlantic.
—Patrick Plouchart, Trad Magazine
A review of Ruthie
Ruthie Dornfeld is a wide-ranging fiddler, described in a recent issue of this magazine (Winter 2002/03) as playing in ia dazzling array of styles, all with the fattest tone imaginable, not to mention beautifully perfect intonation.i Her latest outing, Hummingbird, pairs her with the equally wide-ranging and imaginative Jeremiah McLane on accordion, piano, and Hammond B3 organ. Though both are veterans of the contra dance circuit and adept at the common coin of the realmothat blend of Irish and Quebecois tunesothis new album features a blend of original material and traditional French tunes. The originals, comprising over half of the material, have a French accent, and the result is fresh and relaxing.
The album is a true duetono additional musicians sneak in on the sideobut with just these two instruments and what sounds like a minimum of overdubs and studio trickery, these consummate musicians create a full and enveloping sound, switching between unison playing. trading leads and searching harmonies. Most listeners will be less than familiar with the French repertoire, it being not as easy to find as Irish or old-timey tunesothe rhythms are subtle, not like the in-your-face drive of fast reels, and the melodies twisting, their charms becoming more apparent with each listen. All in all, it seems like the perfect soundtrack for a sunny summer afternoon, sitting in a comfortable chair beneath the shade of a tree, gin and tonic in hand.
It almost goes without saying, though I’ll say it anyways, that Ruthie’s playing is superb, as is Jeremiah’s. Her tone is, indeed, fat, her stylings and variations creative and always adding to the music, never calling undue attention to herself. Jeremiah has fantastic control over his (piano) accordion, playing with a sprightliness like Shakespeare’s Puck. If you prefer staying on familiar ground, this album may not be the thing for you but it offers substantial rewards for the adventurous.