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ANDY MAY - Happy Hours

ANDY MAY - Happy Hours
Fellside FECD224

The second CD from this champion young Northumbrian piper combines music from many traditions with two of Andy May's own compositions and several of his friends' tunes.  The arrangements are simple but effective, with accordion and fiddle beefing up the melody line while guitar and bass fill in behind.  Andy also provides touches of piano.  Starting with the little-known Shetland fiddle tune Swearybox, we're soon back to Tyneside with James Hill's excellent rant The Hawk.  Andy's Baltic connections come out in two tunes, the first a stately minuet and the second a stomping polka.  The Northumbrian tradition is well represented by a pair of jaunty 9/8 jigs, a medley of James Hill classics ending with The Quayside Hornpipe, and an old-style version of Jockey with multiple variations.  The highland pipe march Glasgow City Police pops up later on, and there are a wonderful couple of Galician jigs to finish.

Andy's compositions are both entertaining.  His slow air Ellington is beautiful on piano and Sophy Ball's fiddle.  His Regular Climber is a swinging waltz with a catchy melody and tricky rhythm.  The last few numbers are varied and surprising: Andrew Davison joins Andy for a Northumbrian piping duet, and Benny Graham provides vocals on the grim song One Miner's Life.  In frivolous mood, the title track takes liberties with an old music hall two-step, which scores an instant hit as a virtuoso piping piece.  A finger-twisting tribute to the late great Joe Scurfield is followed by one of Joe's own fine tunes, I'm Going to Speke.  Add a handful of nice little English jigs and reels, plus a couple of modern airs, and there you have it: a very enjoyable sequel to Andy May's debut, full of fun and fine tunes, highly recommended.

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 84 of The Living Tradition magazine.