J.P. Cormier,
Looking Back: The Instrumentals
(independent, 2005)

J.P. Cormier is a one-man band.

No, not in the sense that he has cymbals between his knees and a drum mounted on his back. But Cormier, who started teaching himself to play guitar at age 5 and was winning adult-level competitions by 9, has mastered an awesome number of instruments. That's why the credits for his sterling retrospectice CD, Looking Back: The Instrumentals, read for the most part "J.P. Cormier."

Sure, if you listen to the 15 tracks, which are dominated by Cape Breton/Celtic and bluegrass medleys, it sounds like there's a whole band at work. But it's really Cormier, who recorded layered tracks on guitars, fiddle, acoustic and electric bass, piano, mandolin, banjo, keyboards, drums and percussion. He arranged all of the tunes, some of which he also wrote.

There are a few guests musicians scattered around the album, including Cormier's wife, Hilda Chiasson Cormier, on piano, and his uncle, Joseph Cormier, on fiddle, plus Russell Sawyer on banjo and Danny Maillet on guitars. But most tracks are 100 percent J.P., and it's an incredible aural experience.

J.P. Cormier is a living legend, whose scope and influence range far afield from his island home in northern Cape Breton. Do yourself a favor and pick this up, along with the companion CD, Looking Back: The Songs.

[ visit the artist's website ]

review by
Tom Knapp

26 April 2008

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