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GRAHAM MACKENZIE - Crossing Borders 

GRAHAM MACKENZIE - Crossing Borders 
Blue Door Music BDM001CD 

Something of a prodigy in his youth, this Inverness fiddler has studied classical and traditional music in Manchester and Cape Breton in addition to his highland roots. The youngest winner so far of a Danny award back in 2004, Graham Mackenzie completes the circle with a CD of compositions commissioned by Celtic Connections, combining all the elements of his musical experience. There are some great tunes here, and some wonderful arrangements: the jig, First Is The Way, slips nicely into Vinny's Sponge, while the reel, Keltic Links, brings Cape Breton square dance to life with step-dancing from Megan Henderson. There are some gorgeous slow pieces here too: the opening air, Tune For Grandad, is a beauty, and the lyrical slow strathspey, Night At Glencoe Mills, could become a concert favourite on both sides of the Atlantic.

Crossing Borders starts in Scotland, moves to Manchester, then makes the leap to Nova Scotia before returning to Scotland for the final piping-inspired track which features Scott Wood and Ciorstaidh Beaton on the charming Ridhle Beag and the cheerful Mrs Mackenzie's Farewell To Culloden Academy. The addition of guitar, bass, piano, viola and a couple more fiddles does produce quite an orchestral sound at times, but mostly the melodies are given room to breathe and the arrangements are full without overflowing. There's plenty of scope to appreciate Graham's superb fiddling on The Crate or The Central before he adds layers of whistle and clarsach, and even with five or six other musicians in the mix, that Mackenzie fiddle still cuts through. At the tender age of 24, Graham Mackenzie might just need those two extra zeros on his CD numbers before he's finished.

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 117 of The Living Tradition magazine.