What a recording
- a gathering of the cream of Celtic guitarists, ten years in the making
- it's an amply-filled compilation of Scottish tunes, with some from France
and Spain thrown in. There can't be many albums that unite the late, great
Tony Cuffe with Dick Gaughan, Jack Evans, Brian McNeill (whose idea sparked
this excellent CD), Rob MacKillop, Tony McManus, Alain Genty, Soig Siberil,
Innes Watson and William Jackson. It's an album of pure craft - the interpretations
are always honest, often understated, and never ever flashy. As with any
compilation, there are 'moments of pleasure' that make huge impact, alongside
the gentler, 'pickier' interpretations - and a few totally unexpected
surprises. This one delivers!
It's thrilling to hear young RSAMD fiddler Innes Watson playing guitar
(is his main instrument really fiddle?). His 'Da Day Dawns Set' is a stunner.
Jack Evans' 'Gille Callum Set' speaks powerfully to me too, its bluesy,
plodding start setting up a storming finale - the raunchy twang of his
Sobell guitar is utterly irresistible. I'm impressed by the McManus/Genty/Siberil
sets, which lend Mediterranean ambience to the album - Genty's electric
bass playing (especially his solo part on 'Enfin Set') is the perfect
foil to the dexterity of his co-instrumentalists. Dick Gaughan's selections
stand tall too - his rounded, resonant plucks putting your speakers to
the test beautifully.
Tony Cuffe performs on four tracks, and it's fitting that he opens and
closes the album; the last word quite rightly belongs to him. It's so
easy to see why his intuitive, crafted playing/composing continues to
inspire musician/music lover alike. His picking on tunes like 'My Home
Town' and 'The Voddy Girders' is as bright as a diamond, and a pleasure
to listen to. These were sadly amongst his last recordings.
The whole album offers excellent clarity and richness of sound, and all
the selections reveal the masterly, individual interpretative skills of
the musician. Peter Haigh has done a brilliant job with mixing/mastering
the album. An excellent recording, to be savoured like the best wine.