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HALEY RICHARDSON & QUINN BACHAND - When The Wind Blows High And Clear  

HALEY RICHARDSON & QUINN BACHAND - When The Wind Blows High And Clear  
Private Label  

Prodigy is a strong word, but it applies perfectly to both these young musicians. Since recording her debut album at age 12, fiddler Haley Richardson has toured the world and won several senior prizes, despite not being old enough to drink in a pub yet. Guitarist Quinn Bachand is a little older, but was recording Irish music almost as early with his sister Qristina, and founded his own jazz band a few years ago: he now tours with Jeremy Kittel among others. From New Jersey and Vancouver respectively, this duo is exceptional both in youth and in talent, showing musical mastery far beyond their years.

When The Wind Blows High And Clear is a long title for quite a short album - 11 tracks averaging just over three minutes each - but it is packed with good stuff. Between the opening and closing Irish reels are many traditional favourites: jigs Scatter The Mud and O'Carolan's Favourite, which is strikingly similar to a piece from The Brendan Voyage, reels The Milkmaid and Don't Touch That Green Linnet by the late great Tommy Peoples, the hornpipe Earl Of Hyndford, and the air Dark Slender Boy, which is given a full contemporary make-over. The fiddle and guitar are as fine as pretty much any traditional album, and the interplay between them is delightful.

Quinn and Haley contribute five of their own tunes: the lyrical slow reel Garth Kempster, a mode-shifting jig Jaws Of Angus, the jazzy hornpipe 100 Feet Of Terror, a classic minor jig The Whippet, and the funky little reel Maeve's Cat Eye. Each of these players also sings one song here: the old English ballad Bonnie Miner Lad, and the bitterwseet Dearest Dear, both arranged to stress the instrumentals rather than the vocals. Unlike some fiddle and guitar albums, this is very much a collaboration, with Quinn providing melody breaks as well as much of the arranging and accompaniment. He is also credited as producer, putting an extra gloss on Haley's superb fiddling - a man of many talents.

Alex Monaghan


This review appeared in Issue 130 of The Living Tradition magazine