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ANDY MAY TRIO - About Time

ANDY MAY TRIO - About Time
Ash Wood Records ASH002

The Andy May Trio comprises the eponymous one on Northumbrian smallpipes, piano and harmonium; Ian Stephenson, guitar, melodeon and double bass; and Sophy Ball, fiddle. In addition to being extremely talented musicians, they are all music teachers, with Andy and Ian instructing on the Newcastle University traditional music course. They are also friends who have collaborated in various line-ups over the past 10 years. They also, unsurprisingly come from, and feature the music of, the North-East of England!

And it shows in their playing. There is an undoubted extra quality which comes of knowing one another’s approach to the music, resulting in a smooth and well-balanced end product.

There is a good mixture of traditional repertoire, well-researched from original sources, and self-penned numbers from all three. There are Scandinavian references in a couple of the tune titles (Leaving Copenhagen, The Norwegian Gent) and, occasionally, a hint or two of Nordic phrasing appears in the compositions, but this is unmistakably a Northumbrian album in which the smallpipes feature, but never at the expense of the other instruments. The overall sound is never predominated by any one player; rather we get a harmonious blending and balance throughout.

The trio manages to combine enthusiasm and restraint in such a way as to keep the listener engaged throughout the album, with a good variety of pace and instrumentation, resulting in a CD which you just want to put on again and listen to once more. A fine album indeed.

Gordon Potter

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This album was reviewed in Issue 111 of The Living Tradition magazine.