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THE HALTON QUARTET - Based On True Events

THE HALTON QUARTET - Based On True Events
Private Label HQR001CD

Lyon and Campbell - sounds like a knitwear brand, actually a fiddle and accordion duo, there is a difference - are joined by Wingin' It pair Bulley and Mackenzie to make this strings-heavy quartet combining gutsy Scottish dance music with more genteel pieces. Angus Lyon's composition Washington Square Park has been widely recorded since it was released in 2006, and is now firmly established in the session scene, but it's still nice to hear the quartet's fresh take on it here: plucky, spirited and up-tempo. Next come some tracks which seem to have spelling problems - Triger parts one and two, contrasting melodies moving from a French café style to a flash concert fantasy, followed by Burger The Rabbit which returns to Paris pavements before becoming something of a rock opera.

I don’t know what to make of The Violin Maker, a sort of ambient piece mainly for guitar. It doesn't really match the quartet's declared palette of Argentine tango, European classical, New York jazz and Scottish traditional forms. The Balkeerie Lights and Fall Of Warness fit much more easily under the mantle of progressive folk, the sort of thing you might hear from Simon Mayor, Karen Tweed, or even Sandy Brechin and John McCusker. The Good Ship Halton commemorates the genesis of the Halton Quartet in a suitably swaggering mood, cool jazz meets Orkney swing.

Many of the tracks on this CD run into each other, but the final Then And Now stands alone and serves almost as an overture as well as a conclusion. The elements gradually assemble - guitar, piano box, fiddle, more guitar, even more guitar. The melody takes shape, a sort of ballroom breakdown, pre-BeeGees disco maybe, with a strong Latin theme and a hint of Hammond organ. Finally, Esquivel's lounge style puts on tartan trews with the braces dangling and struts its funky stuff. And that's it. I'm not sure where these guys are going, but they're clearly having loads of fun on the way. Want to know more? Try, obviously!

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 93 of The Living Tradition magazine.