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DWIGHT LAMB, JENSEN & BUGGE - Live In Denmark 2013, Part Two

DWIGHT LAMB, JENSEN & BUGGE - Live In Denmark 2013, Part Two
GO Danish Folk Music GO1114

Let's start from the beginning: the 1800s in fact. This was an era when many Danes emigrated to the USA, particularly Danes from rural areas with strong musical traditions. Dwight Lamb's great grandfather was one such, a fiddler probably. Dwight's family settled in Iowa (well somebody had to) and has been playing Danish music there ever since. Now in his seventies I believe, fiddler and melodeon player Dwight Lamb recently teamed up with one of Denmark's foremost traditional dance bands, duo Mette Kathrine Jensen on continental accordion and fiddler Kristian Bugge. Playing a mixture of the tunes which Dwight's family had passed down and the current Danish dance repertoire, plus some odds and ends of Americana, this trio recorded their dance hall performances and released them on CD: this is their second CD.

The music is pretty much what you might expect, fiddle and accordion trotting through waltzes, polkas and schottisches, somewhere between German oompah and Swedish poignancy. There's a big crossover with English dance music too, particularly with melodeon tunes from the east coast of England. What I love about this CD is the lift, the bounce, the spirit which the trio put into what are generally quite simple tunes. Even the most gravid waltz or promenade sports a swagger and a fancy hat here. Everything is live, one take, and there are some frayed edges as aged fingers flex and jump, but the musicianship is generally top notch. Lamb, Jensen and Bugge are augmented at times by Morten Alfred Høirup on guitar and by the tragicomic trombone of Anders Ringgaard, with added percussion from the dancers' hands and feet of course.

The tracks on this album are short, each one for a single dance and usually a single tune. Of the 19 numbers here, five are ‘bonus’ material from Live In Denmark Part One, including a uniquely Danish version of Oh Susannah. Many dance bands could learn from these three musicians and most of these tunes can be adapted for dancers further south in Europe. If you only listen to one Danish CD this year, there are probably better choices to be honest - but if you can manage two or three, make sure this is one of them! 

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 104 of The Living Tradition magazine.