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CHEYENNE BROWN - Parallel Latitudes

CHEYENNE BROWN - Parallel Latitudes
Bird Creek Records  BCR001

Alaskan born harpist Cheyenne Brown graduated from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in 2006, and then undertook a year of ethnological research into her chosen instrument’s history in Scotland. This evident musicological bent has certainly not constrained her approach.

As perhaps befits a player used to performing across Europe and the United States in various combos, the music here is eclectic and contemporary. It certainly draws heavily on Scottish traditions but is coloured with other Celtic and European textures – Sileas, Myhrdin, and Tristan le Govic are indicative of those that came to mind when listening to it. In short, anyone interested in creative and atmospheric modern use of the harp will find much to please.

Her Dusty Strings harp has a very clear, metallic, treble and middle-rich ringing sound to which harmonics, note bending and other deft techniques are applied. Rhythmically rich, there are ample dynamics, including some improvisational derring-do, but the energetic elements are balanced aplenty with elegance and sensitivity.

The recording presents a series of tune sets and composed pieces drawing on traditional – such as the Athole and Simon Fraser collections - and contemporary sources (Michael McGoldrick’s Trip to Brittany for example), including some of her own well crafted pieces.

The soundscape of the arrangements are admirably supported in the lower register and rhythmically by clever interplay with Seylan Baxter on cello (with whom Cheyenne works and tours in duo format) and the percussive contributions of Dave Boyd on frame drum, bodhran et al. There is also some additional instrumentation on some tracks, namely fiddle (John Bews), dobro and guitar (Dave Currie), tabla (Hardeep Deerhe) and banjo (Anna Massie).

Kevin T Ward

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This album was reviewed in Issue 90 of The Living Tradition magazine.