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The Big Idea...

MOZAIK. I think it was somewhere between Deniliquin and Jerilderie in New South Wales as I drove along on a beautiful December morning that the ''great idea'' came to me. ''Get a bunch of your favourite musicians together and do a tour of this beautiful country'' said the Muse. I pondered for not very long before emailing the suspects I had in mind. To my delight they were all into it and thus emerged ''Mozaik''-a band to die for…

DÓNAL LUNNY needs very little introduction to those who have followed the history of Irish Traditional Music for the last over 30 years. One of the most innovative musicians that Ireland has ever produced and a close friend of mine since our early collaborations even before our Planxty days. Dónal is not only a great musician in his own right but the perfect man to have in a band. As an arranger, he 'hears' the band. Slots each musician into it and creates a band out of the various talents that make it up. He is the 'glue'. When he agreed to join, I knew we were on a winner!

I wanted this band to have a variety of strings to its bow and having toured the USA with ''Andy Irvine's East Wind Trio'' in 1996 I wanted to have NIKOLA PAROV. I had first met Nikola in Budapest about twenty years ago when he was playing with his Balkan band, ''Zsaratnok''. Nikola is very special. The instrument that he cannot play has not yet been invented! In The East Wind Trio he had played not only the main Bulgarian instruments-gadulka (a bowed rebec type instrument), gajda (the Bulgarian bagpipes) and kaval (the Bulgarian end blown flute) but also guitar, bodhrán and clarinet. All with equal brilliance. I knew that his long stint in America with Riverdance was about to come to an end and, to my delight, he was available. 

The other member of the East Wind trio was my old friend RENS VAN DER ZALM from Holland. I met Rens in Slovenia back in 1969 when he was fresh out of school and we were both on the road. I have played with Rens for years since then and could not imagine this band without him. Rens is a very inventive musician playing guitar, mandolin and fiddle. He also plays many other instruments like accordion, tin whistle, bass guitar and you name it! 

Then there is BRUCE MOLSKY. The first time I ever heard Bruce was at a party in his house when he lived in Atlanta, Georgia. He had sung ''I truly understand'' accompanying himself on the fiddle and I thought it was the closest thing I had ever heard to the Old Timey music recorded on 78s in the twenties and early thirties and which had so enthralled me when I was a teenager. I think I must have asked him to play the song about ten times that night and he did! Bruce is also a very fine 5 string banjo player and guitarist as well as a great singer.

Dónal and I had briefly been in a band called ''Mosaic'' in 1985, made up of musicians from various different European countries and when I proposed that we use the name again with a different spelling, nobody said no. So there it was. I could hardly believe my luck! Some of the finest musicians I had ever come across and all willing to take a chance and tour Australia with me….

-ANDY IRVINE, January 2002

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