Scotland's music: Katie McNally: Flourish
Right from the first moments of the opening track on Katie McNally’s recording Flourish there’s a sense of invitation, a sense of engagement, a sense of adventure, all of which she sustains through the music she’s chosen for the album. McNally’s instrument is the fiddle, both the conventional one and the hardingfele. She bases her music in the traditions of Scotland. That’s a base and a matter of respect, to which she brings her own gifts as an interpreter and a composer.
That first track sees Waulking of the Faud from the tradition joined with McNally’s own tune called Lillian’s, a graceful, lively, and inviting beginning to a journey which leads through to a set of original jigs and into a pair of tunes from the tradition. There’s a tune from iconic Scottish fiddler James Scott Skinner and music from contemporary Scottish composer Phil Cunningham, whose work you’ve met before here along the music road. There’s an original waltz, and a set that pairs a jazz inflected tune with one that heads right for tradition, along with the intriguingly titled Bad Soup/ Riff Raff and Widget set, and Da Unst Bridal March from the tradition.
It’s all good stuff, music which finds McNally well able to negotiate tradition, and compose in it, while forging her own style within it. It is a style that respect her own experience as an American as well as it does her love of Scotland and its music. She has created music which will make good listening any time of year, but this recording seems an especially good companion for late winter musing and reflection -- and dancing too, the lively tunes may well have you going for that, or picturing those from bygone days doing so.
Katie McNally co produced Flourish with Hanneke Cassel, a fiddle player and composer you have met more than once here along the music road. Cassel sits in on harmony fiddle, and other musicians whose names may be familiar support McNally as well, among them Eric McDonald on guitar, Ariel Friedman on cello, and Corey DiMario on bass.