Friday, March 08, 2013

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.

you may also wish to see
Hanneke Cassel: For Reasons Unseen
Cathie Ryan: The Farthest Wave
Long Time Courting: Alternate Routes

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Sarah-Jane Summers: Nesta

Sarah-Jane Summers

Sarah-Jane Summers evokes the voices of the north in her playing. Sometimes that’s the voice of the Norwegian Hardanger fiddle. At other times it’s the voice of Inverness, where the fiddler grew up and learned her first bits of music. And at one point, there’s even the sound of a Tibetan singing bowl added in. Summers, whom you might know from her work with the nu Nordic band Fribo, has the gift of creating really eloquent and clear images through her music, whether she’s offering tunes she’s written herself, ones she learned growing up in the north of Scotland, or music from her contemporaries including Jenna Reid and Charlie McKerron. It’s a well thought out, well sequenced collection that shows both the power of her imagination and the sureness of her technique. Notable sets include Guddlin’ in the Burn and Athole Brose, but every track is well worth your listening.

you may also want to see

Music Road: now playing: Hanneke Cassel and Christopher Lewis: Calm the Raging Sea

Music Road: Celtic Connections 2009 on the way

Music Road: Dochas: An Darna Umhail/ A Second Glance

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