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Caberfeidh Music CMD002  

Kenneth Ian MacKenzie's roots in the west highlands are clear on this album, named for one of the abandoned townships on the Ardnamurchan peninsula, one of the most isolated stretches of the Scottish mainland. Multi-instrumentalist and composer, Kenny has written almost all the material here - two dozen new ‘traditional’ pieces for the canon of Scottish music. He plays pipes both wind-powered and digital, low whistle, and highland-style harmonica. In studio, or remotely, he was joined in the creation of this recording by moothie maestro Donald Black, fiddle diva Marie Fielding, flutemaster Tom Oakes who also plays guitar of course, and the drums and keyboard skills of Rory Grindlay and Will Marshall who is responsible for the arrangements. The resulting sounds range from atmospheric slow airs to full dance band tracks, piping quartets and house ceilidhs, all with the stamp of pipe band precision and Gaelic swing.

The opening air Lexie a'Chook is dramatic, almost cinematic, and is one of the more modern-sounding pieces here. There's total contrast from the following pair of 2/4 marches, a peculiarly Scottish piping form, led here by harmonica and whistle with a full band backing. Two charming waltzes which could be Hebridean or Shetland bring us to the first piece not by Mr MacKenzie - Kenny's Ceilidh, a tribute jig by David Wotherspoon. More jigs, more marches, big sets of reels and hornpipes, and a couple more slow numbers lead up to the final 4/4 march, Alasdair Gilles MBE, deservedly a session favourite. Other memorable tunes here by Kenny include The Sanna Barber, the slightly over-produced Sunset On Sunart, the 6/8 march Jean And Ian MacKenzie, and the hornpipe Dr Lesley F Milne. Most tracks are lavishly arranged, and the guest musicians all shine in their allotted parts, with MacKenzie's pipes and harmonica cutting through as required.

Alex Monaghan


This review appeared in Issue 143 of The Living Tradition magazine