Issue 3 02/98
FolkWorld CD Reviews
Hans W. Brimi "Hyljarliv"
Label: Heilo / Grappa Musikkforlag As; HCD 7125; Playing time: 63.21 min, with Biography in English
This album is a showcase of the 80 year old Norwegian Hans W. Brimi. Hans is an extraordinary fiddle player; and as he grew up in the Gudbrandsdal, he plays the 'ordinary' fiddle and not the (in Norway common) Hadanger fiddle.
24 tunes recorded in 32 years can be found on this album; the material is from six prvious albums of Hans and (eight tunes) from the archives of NRK, the Norwegian broadcasting cooparation. Hans plays many beautiful tunes, trad as well as contemporary and much selfwritten material. Most of the music is solo fiddle, but there are also some guests to back Hans on Trekkspel (accordion?) and guitar.
This is a relaxing album for quiet hours.
Heilo / Grappa Musikkforlag As email@example.com
Chris Armstrong "Notes in ma heid"
KRL/Lochshore Records; CDLDL 1271; Playing time: 54.36 min
Chris Armstrong is a 17 year old piper from Scotland - and his first solo CD is magnificent. Most of the tunes on "notes in ma heid" are composed by Chris, and he has doen a very good job on this. There are many jigs and reels, some hornpipes and few marches, some are played solo, some with an excellent backing of amongst others Marc Duff (bodhran, wind synth, wave drum, etc.), Ross Kennedy (bouzouki), Steve Lawrence (percussion, etc) and Brian McAlpine (keys, accordion). This modern backing fits very well to the new tunes steeped in old traditions.
Fred Morrison, producer of this CD, states: "This album, the first of many for Chris, will delight pipers, musicians and music lovers everywhere" - I am sure, he is right.
Various Artists "The Piping Concert (Celtic Connections 1997)"
KRL/Lochshore Records; CDLDL 1270; Playing time: 45.13 min
It is becoming more and more trendy to record exciting piping concerts for CD release. This concert was held in the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall at Celtic Connections 1997, the CD is produced by Capercaillie's Donald Shaw. So you can find tunes played by Dr. Angus Macdonald solo on the Highland pipes, by Paddy Keenan (from Ireland) on whistle and uilleann pipes (backed by Tommy O'Sullivan); there are Highland pipes played by Gordon Duncan, Northumbrian small pipes (Pauline Cato) with fiddle (Tom McConville); and finally two Breton tunes played by Patick Molard on Highland pipes and biniou (Breton pipes). Friends of pipe music will have their pleasure to compere the different 'voices' of the pipes from four regions.
Green "Found on the Wave"
KRL/Lochshore Records; CDLDL 1267; Playing time: 44.12 min
Out of the Northeast of Scotland came this duo to present their music to the world. Grenn are Clare Lindley (fiddle, viola, vocals) and John Mitchell (guitars, vocals) - they are getting some musical support on this album from the two producers: Davy Cattanach (drums, percussion; Old Blind Dogs) and Niall Mathewson (bass guitar).
Green perform on this album two traditional songs ('Rattlin' Roarin' Willie' and 'Oh Johnny my man') and a lot of selfwritten material (three tunes, seven songs). They a fine and individual (modern) approach in the songs written by John (sometines together with Clare). Good debut from a innovative Scottish 'small band' with two different voices, guitar and fiddle.
JCB with Jerry Holland "A Trip to Cape Breton"
KRL/Lochshore Records; CDLDL 1269; Playing time: 41.14 min
JCB are on this side of the atlantic (Europe) better known as the Scottish 'Jura Ceilidh Band'. The name of this CD shows the 'origins' of it: It was recorded during 'a trip to Cape Breton' in 1997. The four Scots Ross Kennedy (Banjo, Guitar, Vocals), Archie McAllister (Fiddle), Dary MacDonnald (Accordion) and Charlie Harrison 8Guitar) are joined on this album by the magnificent Cape Breton Fiddler / Stepdancer Jerry Holland and Sheumas MacNeil on Piano. It is an album, that brings together songs and tunes from 'old Scotland' and 'new Scotland' (Nova Scotia in Canada).
Charlie Zahm "Under the Great Northern Stars"
Label: Wolf Harbor Music; WHM0997
I recently got a copy of Charlie Zahm's latest release. I have to admit it, I'm a sucker for a voice like this - smooth as warm honey, yet evoking such power and emotion. I find myself sometimes just listening to the 'way' he uses his voice, song by song moving from torrential strength to soft whispers, and all so effortlessly.
Charlie has recently released an album called "Under the Great Northern Stars". On many of his earlier albums, Charlie has concentrated on singing traditional material, but this is his second album that presents solely
his own songwriting. And what a storyteller is Charlie - who takes us into the worlds of fishermen and highwaymen with tales of hope and loss and tragic love. He takes us to places that he loves and makes us love them too. His songs paint characters so real, that we expect them to walk in the door at any minute.
The title track puts us out on the water - any water - looking up at the night sky,relishing the feeling of freedom, and sets the tone of the album. Another track, "This Old Fishing Boat and Me" speaks of the resiliency and pride of the people of Nova Scotia, and how difficult it is to relocate when your way of living won't support you anymore. Charlie tries to get to the man behind the myth in "Wild Pacific Shore" - a song about the Franklin expedition, but from another angle.
One of the highlights of this album: On "The Coast of St Croix" you find what must be twenty Charlies, layer upon layer, singing a sea chanty. Lord, if the chantey singing were this good in the old days on ship, I'd sign
up right now. Listen to this one with the headphones - the depth and harmonies are
worth the price of the album. Sort of a cross between the chantey and a Welsh male choir. Stunning.
And, just when you're deep in the sea songs, and fairly feeling the spray on your face - up comes a cowboy song! Written for Charlie's grandfather, "Song of the Cowboy" is a wonderful change of pace, with a great chorus
to sing along with. You won't be able to help yourself.
Oh, another surprise - a infectious country love song, "A Thousand Sunsets". Zahm is an accomplished 5-string banjo player, and this setting is perfect for it. "Under the Great Northern Stars" has that inimitable Charlie Zahm touch - great singing, wonderful songwriting, fine instrumental back up and audio production that's both lush and sparse enough to support the singing without overriding it.
Excellent from start to finish.
Charlie's homepage, e-mail
Label: Boa/Do Fol; DF009; Playing time: 48.58 min Galicia (in Northern Spain) and its music enjoy at the moment quite a popularity in Europe - here's another album from the Green Spian. As one of the older established Galician bands, Chouteira play music in the traditional way, but still with lots of imagination and improvising. They do not have the strong Celtic element (that is often found in Galician music) in their music; most of the tracks on the album are trad Galician. Chouteira are seven guys, they have three (!) gaitas (the Galician bagpipes), percussion, accordeon, some brass and a female singer singing in Gallego. Some of their songs and tunes are in my ear too "traditional" - especially the way the gaitas are sometimes arranged; the brass section in a few tunes I do not like as well. But remarkable of this album is that they have managed to capture a live feeling; you can feel the power, the joy of living, the happy atmosphere - making this all again enjoyable listening.
Norland Wind "Harp Music from the celtic North West"
Label: Celtic Heartbeat, UND53093; Playing time: 45.22 min
Norland Wind is a German-Irish band, consisting of - on the Irish side - Clannad's Noel and Padraig Duggan and Ian Melrose from Scotland, and on the German side harpist Thomas Loefke and singer Kerstin Blodig. Centre piece is the Celtic harp; Thomas is also in Ireland respected as harpist; and he is joined by guitars, mandolin, whistles, keyboards etc. The overall sound reminds of early Clannad (before they went into Pop); quiet and beautiful trad sounding music, mostly written by either Thomas or other band members. Kerstin Blodig contributes with her light voice three songs (one in Gaelic, two in English) with unconventional arrangements.
Norland Wind showcases a successful collaboration of talented German and Irish musicians
Urbil & Txomin Artola "Hondarribia"
Label: Banaka Records BA03CD; Playing time: 43.04 min
Music from the Basque country, presented by a father-and-son duo. Both of them play guitar, and both of them sing having fine voices. Mostly the songs are very lyrical, telling of the beauty of their country, of every day life, of love. Partly traditional, partly written by Txomin or by contemporary poets, the songs paint a thoughtful, but pretty image of the duo's home country. They sing in Basque, keeping the regional cultural identity alive by using their language, a language that is totally different to the Gallo-Roman based languages in France and Spain. The booklet contains lovely pics from the Basque country; and the lyrics of the songs just in original language - translations into English, Spanish and French can be found on the CD-Rom part of the disc.
An album that is unspectecular, but still full of beauty.
e-mail Txomin Artola
Coope Byes & Simpson "Hindsight"
Label: No Masters Cooperative Limited; NMCD11; Playing time: 50.52 min
You might call Coope Byes & Simpson a three-piece men choir - but do not expect now that they might be boring! The three Englishmen have tremendous skills to arrange their vocal harmonies; though most of the album is a-capella (just two songs are backed by accordeon or guitar), you never miss an instrumental backing. While their former albums have been based on their own material, on 'Hindsight' Coope Boyes & Simpson showcase in their uncomparable way a selection of beautiful traditional English songs. As they say in the liner notes, the traditional music repertoire has been a tremdous influence harmonically, melodically and in the nature of writing - and the listener can feel that they are very much at home in the traditional song.
From the first line of 'Shallow Brown' to the last of 'Ten Thousand Miles', I have been captured by the fascination and beauty of these superb vocal harmonies. If you have always thought a choir is boring - buy this one, three Englishmen will show you how exciting a small choir can be!
No Masters Cooperative Limited; e-mail Jim Boyes
Label: Coop Breizh; GWP001; Playing time: 65.29 min
If you have just a little bit of interest in Breton music, you know their name: The seven-piece band Gwerz are one of the best representants of Breton music. With a line-up of bombarde, fiddle, guitar, clarinette, biniou (Breton pipes)/uillean pipes, bass guitar and percussion, Gwerz create a groovy and powerful sound. This is a live album from 1992, and the sound quality is very good while nevertheless the live feeling of their concerts in Britanny is captured. Gwerz feature some of the best Breton musicians: The Molard brothers Patrick (pipes) and Jackie (fiddle), guitarist Soig Sibéril, Eric Marchand, one of the best singers singing in the traditional Breton way, to name only three.
This is a classic album of a classic Breton band.
e-mail Coop Breizh
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