Issue 8 2/99
FolkWorld CD Reviews
Bachué "A Certain Smile"
Label: Culburnie Records; CUL114D; Playing time: 60.56 min
Bachué - alias Corrina Hewit (vocals, Scottish harp) and David Milligan (piano, guitar) - are one of the freshest and most intesting duos to come out of the traditional music scene of Scotland. Both are well known names in the trad and folk scene as well as in the jazz circuit. The jazz side of their background adds the certain fresh, new and unique approach to their trad (and self composed) music. The music gets a new edge and is absolutely exciting.
The two are backed on this, their second album, by Brian Sheils on double bass, the ex-Old Blind Dogs percussionist Davy Cattanach, Phil Bancroft on tenor and soprano saxophone and by Horse McDonald on harmony vocals. The guests give a further jazzy flavour to this album, without taking over the centre of the music, giving the right emphasis on Corrrina and David's music.
The album consists of ten instrumental tracks, four traditional songs (My Johnny Was a Shoemaker, The Birkin Tree, etc) and one Jazz ballad which fits well between the folk songs; it is backed just by David's piano - brilliant!
All in all just a wonderful harmonising album with lots of highlights - for me the best album to have come from Scotland for quite a while.
Høirup "Vingården (the Vineyard)"
Label: Between Your Ears Productions; BYEP
CD 001; 9 Tracks; Playing Time: 40.40 min
Morten Alfred Høirup's first solo album is a real gem. The music is
full of grace and beauty, with intricate and extremely varied arrangements.
Morten Alfred Høirup is a guitarist, but uses his solo album to
showcase his skills as a composer and arranger rather than a dazzling
instrumentalist. Consequently, this is not primarily a "guitar album". While
he does play guitar on all nine tracks, Høirup does allow his guests to
take centre stage wherever the tune demands it. He is joined on the album by
the other members of his band American Cafe Orchestra, Ruthie Dornfeld
(viola, violin) and Tapani Varis (bass, flute, jew's harp), as well as the
Danish trio Lang Linken: Carl Erik Lundgaard (accordeon), Poul Lendal
(violin, hurdy-gurdy, jew's harp, percussion) and Keld Nørdgaard
(violin, nordic bagpipes, kantele).
There are six original tunes and three traditional songs. The tunes are
dance melodies in various time signatures (3/4, 7/8, 5/8), but played slowly
and precisely enough that they invite the listener to sit back and listen
carefully rather than get up and dance. The songs are ancient ballads, which
tell mythical stories from Danish folklore. The whole album is thoroughly
rooted in the Danish tradition, and a brilliant modern contribution to it.
Mail for further information
Sorten Muld "Mark II"
Label: Pladecompagniet/Sony Music Denmark; PCCD8137; Playing time: 58.23 min
The most successful band the Danish folk scene has -maybe ever - produced - they were nominated for 8 Danish Grammy's in 1998: Danish band of the Year, Danish Female Singer of the Year, Danish Album of the Year (exactly this reviewed album), Danish Hit of the Year, Danish Techno Release of the Year, Danish Producer of the Year and finally Danish Cover of the Year. And this is still folk you ask?
Well actually I am not sure about that. Concept of Sorten Muld is to combine medieval Scandinavian ballads with Techno and Trip Hop; the medieval/folk element are the songs of Ulla Bendixen and Martin Seeberg's Bagpipes and Jews Harp. Added to these are programming, 'sound design', percussions, double bass and guitar.
All in all the combination works, although sometimes it is for me too much Techno, Trip Hop and whatever else, making the old ballads - well - a bit too noisy. Ulla has a really beautiful, crystal clear voice; listening to the first number of the CD, I can't avoid to make a comparison to Capercaillie - the arrangement, and also the voice is very similar. But - in my opinion unfortunately - they can't stand the comparison to be the Danish Capercaillie; the techno elements are too heavy, the folk element too weak in parts. Still, Sorten Muld have a large following also in the young Danish folk music scene. And - as we see with their Grammy nominations - their blend of music is hugely successful in very diverse music scenes.
Definitely a very interesting approach, still only recommandable for those who are VERY open to modern music styles.
Sorten Muld's Homepage
Tabache "Waves of Rush"
Label: KRL/Lochshore; CDLDL 1283 ; Playing time: 50.05 min
Tabache are surely on their way to become famous. 'Waves of Rush' is the second album of this duo from Scotland (both are now based in Scotland, although Claire is from Newcastle). It is always hard for a band to follow a highly acclaimed debut album, but Tabache seem to have no problems to keep their high standard.
Let's talk about the musicians - Tabache are the young master fiddler Aidan O' Rourke and Claire Mann on flute, fiddle, vocals and whistle. Both are highly talented musicians and as a group their have created a distinctive sound steeped in the Scottish traditions, but also with influences from Ireland and England. In live, they are currently joined by young guitarist Ross Martin the most times - on the album, their former guitarist/bouzouki player Malcolm Stitt (Deaf Shepherd, Boys Of the Lough, Keep it Up,..) can be heard. Malc is not the only guest, the others are Neil Cameron (Mick West Band) on double bass, Donald Hay on percussion, Marc Duff (ex-Capercaillie) on bodhran, Deaf Shepherd's Rory Campbell on border pipes and finally Capercaillie's leader Donald Shaw, who not only played keyboards, but also produced this fine album.
Inbetween the traditional tunes, Aidan has written quite a few. Three songs (one from Scotland, one from England and one from Northern Ireland) are sung by Claire with her clear voice with lots of passion. This duo is certainly one to watch out for.
Garret O Fachtna "A Jumble of Beginnings"To be honest, amongst the sea of new bands and artists that are emerging
onto the Irish/ Celtic music scene, itís pretty hard to produce an
outstanding CD that grabs the listener immediately. O Fachtnaís album
sometimes lapses into middle-of-the-road country/ folk ballads, and one
feels that the uillean pipes, accordion, whistles and bodhran could have
taken more of a centrestage role, instead of merely accompanying the
main melody of the tunes. Having said this however, some of the lyrics
are wryly humorous- ĎAnother Sunday comes around/ But thereís no chapel
in this town/ So he worships at the bar again/ Till he leaves with the
girl with the long blond hairí being one example. Maybe this is an album
which grows on the listener gradually; O Fachtnaís vocals are certainly
exceptionally poignant at times.
Deirdre Cunningham Band "Cry From The Heart"
Label: KRL/Lochshore Records; CDLDL 1277; 11
Tracks; Playing Time: 47.41 min
Yes, you might have heard of Deidre Cunningham, as she has performed
with the likes of Christy Moore, Hothouse Flowers, Martin Carthy and
Norma Waterson. Her debut album, 'Sunny Days' offered seven self-written
tracks, announcing the arrival of a new talent on the song-writing
scene. Her music reminds me of the likes of Rusted Root and Spirit of
the West, although there is a distinct almost middle-Eastern percussion
rhythm pulsing through the songs, thanks to the talents of Conor Gillen,
who plays the djemba, bodhran and Indian tablas. His fusion of Afro,
Cuban, Jazz and funk styles comes out clearly on this album Liam
Cunningham and Steve Wickham complete the four-piece band, and yes,
Wickham has been guest musician on U2's 'Sunday Bloody Sunday', The
Waterboys' 'Fisherman's Blues' and Sinead O'Connor's 'I Do Not Want What
I Haven't Got'. In my opinion, the Deidre Cunningham Band are gradually
coming into recognition within the Celtic/ folk music scene, so don't
wait till the end of the year to say that you've got a copy of their new
Common Ground "Wings of Silver" (1996);
"Live at the Emu Farm" (1998)
Label: Uncommonly Round
Live at the Emu Farm is dedicated to the memory of Cheryl Cloud, who
wrote most of the band's songs, and sadly, died of cancer four years
ago. Common Ground's folk/ rock roots are brought to the fore in their
latest release, a live album which was recorded in front of an audience
of specially invited family, friends and loved ones in 1997. The mix of
traditional tunes and original songs on this album demonstrates the
steady career of this Southern California based band, who did a 20 year
anniversary commemorative tour last year. To be honest though, I
preferred the traditional Irish tunes to the more country rock numbers
on the live CD, but each to his/her own! Certainly, this new release
reaffirms the band's long-standing place in the American folk scene as
one of the most popular live folk acts in the States.
Rawlins Cross "Living River"
Label: Magnetic Music
With this album, Rawlins Cross confirm their place in the stage of
younger Irish/Celtic folk musicians emerging out of the States and
Canada, along with the likes of other bands such as the Mahones and the
Rankins. Having heard a previous album of theirs, I was pleased to
listen to thirteen new tracks which ranged from the traditional
instrumentals like 'Little Sara/ Jessie's Jig' and 'Mairi Nighean
Alasdair' to the more eclectic mix of pop-rock, folk, country and even
ska, on tracks like 'A Sad Story', 'The Morning After' and 'Baby-Oh'.
Natalie MacMaster as guest musician adds a nice touch to the album,
which should see an increase in the Rawlins Cross fan-base. Check out
the first track, 'Forever Dancing', which is a great toe-tapping,
head-bopping, opener to the album.
Since "Living River", a newer album, "Make it On Time", has been published by Magnetic Music; the Editors.
Capercaillie "Dusk till Dawn" (The Best of)
Label: Survival Records
With 74 minutes of music, this selection of 17 tracks from the
repertoire of probably the most famous contemporary Celtic music act
from Scotland is a great addition to any folkie's CD collection, and
serves as a great introduction to the band's music (if one is needed!) I
certainly found myself singing along to the great selection of
favourites, both old and new. Included on this compilation are the
band's first Top 40 Gaelic single, 'Coisich a Ruin', a remix version of
'Miracle of Being', the theme song from Rob Roy, 'Ailein Duinn', a 1998
version of 'Inexile' featuring African vocalists Sibeba, and an ultra
rare live versin of 'Breisleach', which proves the band's ability to
fuse Celtic and World music in a distinctive way which has guaranteed
their continued success in the Celtic/ Folk scene today. What more can I
say? Buy this album now, and play it, literally, from dusk till dawn!
Various "The Rough Guide to
Label: World Music Network; RGNET
1017 CD; 14 Tracks; Playing Time: 68.42 min
Various "The Rough Guide to Cajun
Label: World Music Network; RGNET
1028 CD; 19 Tracks; Playing Time: 66.15 min
Various "The Rough Guide to
Label: World Music Network; RGNET
1012 CD; 24 Tracks; Playing Time: 73.21 min
The Rough Guide CDs tend to be aimed at people who are just
beginning to develop an interest in an area's regional music and are looking
for an overview. This is certainly true of these three, so the serious
cajun, zydeco, salsa or jazz fan will probably find little of interest here.
On the other hand, the legions of people who've recently stumbled across
Cuban music due to the success of the "Buena Vista Social Club"-CD should
provide a ready market for "The Rough Guide to Salsa". "Salsa" has
established itself as an umbrella term for the infectious South American
dance music with roots in Cuba and Puerto Rico which has spread right across
Latin America and beyond. The album kicks off with three exponents of
Colombian salsa, La Sonora Carruseles, The Latin Brothers and Joe Arroyo Y
La Verdad, before moving on to Cuba and one of the earliest salsa players,
Mario Bauzá. It stays with the Cuban artists for the next few tracks by
Ritmo Y Candela, Conjunto Campesino Cuyaguateje, Familia Valera Miranda and
one of Cuba's most successful recent exports, trumpeter Jesús
Alemañy's ¡Cubanismo!. Oscar d'Leon also plays in the Cuban style,
but stems from Venezuela where he is massively popular. The next two tracks
take us back to Colombia; first with the "musica tropical"-style of La
Sonora Dinamita, then with Fruko Y Sus Tesos, described as "the Godfather of
Colombian salsa" in the liner notes. After the Cuban Grupo el Organo
Pinareño, the album concludes with tracks by the pianists Alfredo
Rodríguez and Charlie Palmieri. And if by then you're not up and
dancing, there must be something wrong with you.
"The Rough Guide to Cajun and Zydeco" features the
main American exponents of the two genres (but overlooks their
European-based counterparts such as Pierre LeRue). On the more traditional
Cajun side, the Doucet family dominates, with solo tracks from both Michael
and David Doucet as well as tracks by Beausoleil (two) and the Savoy-Doucet
Cajun Band. Also included are Nathan Abshire, Jimmy C. Newman, Wallace
'Cheese' Read, the California Cajun Orchestra, Eddie LeJeune, Jo-El Sonnier
and D.L. Menard. The rockier, accordeon-led zydeco style is represented by a
broad range of artists, from its inventor Clifton Chenier via Nathan &
the Zydeco Cha Chas and Bruce Daigrepont to Steve Riley & the Mamou
Playboys, John Delafose & the Eunice Playboys and Buckwheat Zydeco (two
tracks). Speaking as someone who tends to get bored with the cajun style
after a few tracks on single-artist albums, this collection is varied enough
to work very well and seems to me to be the ideal choice for someone looking
to add just one cajun / zydeco album to their collection.
As for "The Rough Guide to Classic Jazz", it doesn't
really fall within the scope of this magazine, so I'll keep it brief: a
generous selection of early jazz artists, some extremely popular such as
Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Fats Waller, plus tracks from Jelly-Roll
Morton's Red Hot Peppers, the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, King Oliver's
Creole Jazz Band, the New Orleans Rhythm Kings, Fletcher Henderson & his
Orchestra, Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, J.C. Cobb, State Street Ramblers,
Pinetop Smith, McKenzie & Condon's Chicagoans, Bix Beiderbecke, The
Charleston Chasers, Miff Mole & his Molers, Eddie Condon, Clarence
Williams, Kansas City Orchestra and Don Redman & his Orchestra.
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