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NORMAN MACKAY  The Perfect Squeeze

NORMAN MACKAY  The Perfect Squeeze

A prodigious talent, this button box player from Cawdor has become well known in Edinburgh and beyond.  Brash and eclectic, Norman's playing combines the drive of Scottish accordion music with the flow and variations of the continental style.  The Perfect Squeeze starts with the monster Klezmer jig The Montreal Fiddler, all semitones and swirling rhythms, helped by a couple of friends from the band Moise's Bagel.  Two top-speed twisted reels follow, as Rod Paul tries to keep up on banjo, and so far this debut CD is 100% Norman's own compositions.  Lord Haddow's Favourite slows the pace, straight off an early Battlefield LP, paired with the march Mr MacFarlane, which is another Mackay original.  The Leaving of Paris is mainstream continental accordion music, stunningly played.  It's track 5 before we really hear the standard Scottish repertoire on Kenny Gillies.  Then Norman's off again into Norwegian airs, Gordon Duncan showpieces, a Cunningham-style slow number and a twang-filled barndance, before a set of reels and a Skinner air bring us to another continental showpiece in Valerie's Waltz. Twelve tracks of very varied music: the final down-tempo organ arrangement of The Montreal Fiddler is pure over-indulgence.
The Perfect Squeeze is a fifty-minute roller-coaster ride, never dull and certainly not predictable.  Norman includes eight of his own distinctive melodies, including one dedicated to his fiddler friend Carrie Thomas.  One of Carrie's compositions is also featured here, as are tunes by Donald Shaw, J-P Cormier and Allan Henderson.  There's a bit of percussion, quite a lot of fiddle, and a few other touches, but it's really all about the box.  This is an album for serious accordion enthusiasts, and for those who like their music served hot and rich with plenty of gravy.  There's a bit of everything, not unlike a good curry, and occasionally some of it slides off the plate.  If you're looking for full flavour and you don't mind the occasional splatter, this could be the perfect CD for you.  It's not something you'd manage every day, though.  Give it a whirl at and see how much you can keep down.
Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 78 of The Living Tradition magazine.