Monday, August 31, 2015

Rather Along the Same Lines

Some friends from my band, who were in Scotland for the week of Piping Live! and who saw this year's 'Worlds in person, surprised me with a smashin' new CD they picked up over there: The Fred Morrison Trio: Live at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. (And an autographed copy, no less, God bless 'em! I was pretty excited about that. Indeed, I am still excited about that.)

You can go over to Bandcamp and hear why this would be an exciting thing. Of course, to me, two things stood out: 1.) it's Fred Morrison; 2.) I now have my very own recording of "Kansas City Hornpipe." But this was the reaction before I even listened to the CD. Even if you are not a fiddler who has been coveting "Kansas City Hornpipe" for a year and more, there is a rather immeasurable lot to like about this album. In no particular order:

  • The variety. The collection never gets wrapped around one flavour--an impressive feat when you consider that there is only one lead instrumentalist. But there are border pipe tracks a-plenty, set off among whistle tracks, and my crown jewel above on the uillean pipes, of course.
  • The musicality. It is Fred Morrison after all--and live at that! A contagious delight in the tunes looses very little, I think, in this case, by being encased in the (metaphorical) amber of a recording. The music itself is alive, the musician just happens to be whirled along with enjoying the fun, and the listener is just as compelled.
  • The musicianship. That man can play the pipes, to say nothing of the whistle. And the backing musicians (especially a guitarist at the speed of Track 10) might not be entirely human. 
  • The tunes. Everyone is bound to have different favourites here, and I would hate to distract too much from others' potential choices by rambling on about my own subjective likes. But did I mention "Kansas City Hornpipe" was part of the album? Of course, being a pushover when it comes to slow airs, I was particularly struck by "Passing Places," as well. If the album never stagnates in its sound, it never does in style either. You can have the firecrackers of an insane "Sleepy Maggie," the bleak, wistful phrasing of "Passing Places" and the very. . .well, downtown, swing of "Downtown," all under one roof.
  • I meantersay, it's just a grand album all-round.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Late Notice

UPDATE: Saturday's competition is being streamed by the BBC. I knew that. . .

 Whatever else I do, or mostly don't do, around this blog, I always feel that I should say something about the World Pipe Band Championships broadcasts. Well, I missed giving any heads-ups for today's qualifier round, but you can catch the finalists on Saturday, beginning with the MSR at 02:30 PST and the Medley at 07:15PST on LiveStream. It should be a great contest, if this morning's quality was anything to go by.

And here are samples of the aforesaid quality (the Livestream people very kindly put each set up separately as soon as it is finished being broadcast): "You have fingers like a Canadian piper" should be an international compliment among musicians. (And oh, that air!): The tone here makes me feel the same way that watching the ocean makes me feel. It makes me plain happy to be alive to see and hear something so grand. "Rather beyond my likes and dislikes," as Sam Gamgee said of elves. It's just that good. I am off to work shortly and haven't had any luck in tracking down the video of St. Laurence O' Toole's medley, but if you have a moment, go find it and watch it. It's magnificent.