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DONALD BLACK - Bho M' Chridhe

DONALD BLACK - Bho M' Chridhe
Private Label DB05CD

Maybe it's a sign of being 'sizeist' in one's view of instrumental music if the prospect of a full album of harmonica virtuosity does not instantly set the blood racing for everyone. Donald Black is the leading practitioner of the moothie as a traditional instrument and he goes a long way towards transcending the gob-iron's image as something you stuff in your shirt pocket and forget about.

No, size isn't everything; versatility, variety and soul count for a lot as well. The CD's title translates as From My Heart, and that is a fair indication of Mr Black's aspirations to paint the big emotional picture.

He doesn't do it alone. His tunes come from a wide range of sources, both traditional and attributable, originally intended for the harmonica and not. He also has the help of a healthy crew of guest musicians from both old and new worlds, predominantly on squeezeboxes, fiddles and guitars. At all times, the humble harmonica - which after all is often carried next to the heart - holds its own. Listen, for instance, to the set of jigs starting with Roll Back The Carpet, or the stripped down, old school sound of a set of 2/4 marches under the title of Highland Schottische, or the Slow Air that follows them, for evidence of what this modest instrument can do in expert hands.

Dave Hadfield

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This album was reviewed in Issue 120 of The Living Tradition magazine.