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MIKE VASS - String Theory

MIKE VASS - String Theory
Rusty Squash Horn Records RSH001CD

Fiddler Mike Vass has composed all the material on this recording, and although it was commissioned for a Celtic Connections concert it's basically just a collection of good tunes. There's nothing conceptual about the album, beyond a really neat cover design and a well-chosen band. Vass gets the credit as composer, but the performance is a collective thing: Angus Lyon on piano box, Calum MacCrimmon on pipes and whistles, Megan Henderson on second fiddle, Anna Massie on fretted strings, and Ali Vass on piano, as well as a solid rhythm section in Steve Fivey and James Lindsay.
Opening with reel and jig versions of the same basic melody, Vass proceeds with a very varied programme: two spirited jigs in the modal highland style, the very atmospheric pipes-led piece Man's Search, the much simpler Fairholm Reel as a fiddle solo, a trio of tunes ending with the funky little reel It's A Bar recalling Oliver Schroer's fun and games with vocals, and plenty more. I particularly liked the gentle grace of 35 Year Waltz and the jaunty set of jigs and reels named for Calum James MacCrimmon. Vass ends with another gentle waltz featuring sister Ali. The musicianship and recording quality are excellent throughout String Theory, of course. Like I said, this isn't a concept album - just a collection of good tunes - but I'd say the theory is well proven.

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 89 of The Living Tradition magazine.