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PETE COOPER & RICHARD BOLTON "Turning Point" Big Chain BC 101

This is billed as an album of "fiddle and cello duets". Now that makes it a bit of an oddity in itself: hands up, the first person to tell me when they last heard a similar combination.

But, in their sleeve notes both men are keen to tell us that they are not breaking any new ground: on the contrary, this combination is "deeply rooted" in ethnic English music. The tunes come from various sources, with compositions from Pete being particularly striking. They are written very much simpatico to the Tradition: drawing on various playing styles and dance forms. One in particular, August, has all what it takes to be a classic along the lines of Jay Ungar's Ashokan Farewell. And the playing of both guys is immensely authoritative, and a delight from start to finish. For players of both fiddle and cello on the Folk Scene, this is as close to a "Must Buy" as it gets.

However, I would not be ME, if I did not utter a slight caveat, and it is this: for those of us who are players of neither instrument, then this CD might be seen as needing another ingredient. And that ingredient is the human voice. A mixture of vocal and instrumental tracks would give the album that extra dimension.

If neither guy could sing, I would understand their determination to "keep it instrumental", but we are intriguingly given one vocal cut: one that it feels like they have "sneaked in" almost unannounced! It is a version of that fine old song Handsome Molly delivered with great brio by Cooper. Golly! He left us wanting more.

Dai Woosnam.

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This album was reviewed in Issue 53 of The Living Tradition magazine.