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GORDON GUNN - Wick To Wickham

GORDON GUNN - Wick To Wickham
Greentrax Recordings CDTRAX381

Brought up in Wick, Caithness, and a fiddle tutor and session musician as well as band member of outfits like Session A9 and Anum and his own Gordon Gunn Band, Gordon has made an impressive contribution to Scottish music and carved out a niche as musician, teacher and composer. His second Greentrax album, Wick To Wickham, comes some years after his debut release, Shoreside, issued under the Gordon Gunn Band moniker. Wick To Wickham is very much a solo effort, though band members Brian McAlpine (keyboards) and Phil Anderson (guitars) join in at times, as do Tim Edey, Marc Duff, David “Chimp” Robertson and Marc Clement.

The focus is on fiddle music thoughout and the backings add colour and shade to the proceedings and yet create their own understated presence on which Gordon Gunn relies for support. There is a jazzy touch in his playing on the opening set, Woodless Mount, which suggests a flighty unpredictability, while other pieces like Ardressie allude to some Classical influences creeping in and the swinging, vampy Fleur De Mandragore set almost hits the Canadian cadences of Pierre Shyrer and the jazz expertise of Stefan Grapelli before hitting more traditional turf.

While the album may be fiddle music rooted in the Scottish and Irish traditions, he is definitely not a traditional player in the pure drop vein. Rather, he appears more like Sean McGuire, as something of a chameleon-like professor with an endless curiosity for intriguing styles and nuances and transposing them into his playing. Perhaps it is better to label him an interpreter then rather than a traditionalist, as his control of mood on sets like Money, Stories, Fame…..Stuff and Atlantic Forest show an incredulous mix of different eclectic styles and approaches – yet they work and provide some sterling moments. Wick To Wickham is fiddle music with a difference – check it out.

John O'Regan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 113 of The Living Tradition magazine.