Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas Triumphant Again

Culburnie 124D
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Classic Scots fiddlers like Niel Gow saw little contradiction between playing for a fashionable drawing room audience by day and sawing out tunes for village peasants in the evening. After all, bowed instruments (including viola and cello) were more about the dance than the musician. If it set Scottish toes a tapping, it scarcely mattered if they were shod in silk or leather. That spirit of court and pub pervades the latest release from Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas. Superlatives fail for these two, but does it surprise anyone to hear this is a stunning release? It differs from previous projects in several ways. First, the feel is more courtly than plebian. There are some wonderful raucous  traditional tunes here, including one of the better versions of the 3/2 dance tune “Keys to the Cellar” (known by many as “Cam Ye Ower Frae France”) ever recorded, but there’s even more stately material such as the strathspey “Niel Gow’s Wife;” Fraser’s birthday tune for a friend, “Howard Booster’s Style;” and “Glenfinnan,” a slow wedding march composed by Fraser. Another departure involves the integration of a style unavailable to the old masters: jazz. Fraser’s cleverly titled “Hot Club d’Écosse” hops to Django Reinhart small-combo jazz beats. Perhaps most surprising, Fraser and Haas even integrate some trombone and euphonium into “The Kelburn Brewer.” But style scarcely matters with masters such as these. Think I exaggerate? Who else could make a playful song about a kitten on the back of a gull (“On the Wings of a Skorrie’) sound so soul-wrenchingly beautiful? 
Rob Weir

 Here's a You Tube video of very good quality from the amazing concert I saw last September.

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