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JOHN STUART SCOTTISH DANCE BAND - North Of The Grampians  Volume 1

JOHN STUART SCOTTISH DANCE BAND - North Of The Grampians Volume 1
Private Label JSSDB01CD

The John Stuart Scottish Dance Band has been playing all over the place for a number of years now, and is rightly recognised as one of the best. The line-up consists of John Stuart, lead accordion; Alisdair Macleod, second box; William James, fiddle; Aileen M Jamieson, piano; and Brian Watt, drums. So, a standard configuration, but definitely an above-standard sound.

This is a recording for dancing, so the tunes are, as you would expect, strict tempo, yet they are played with a lightness of touch throughout, with all the instruments coming clearly through. The overall effect is to give a lift to the tunes, over and above the technical musicianship, which helps dancers to really get into the swing of things.

The tunes themselves draw on a wide range of contemporary composers as well as traditional numbers, and they are thoughtfully presented in the accompanying booklet by dance titles, if you want to use the CD for some live footwork. There are also instructions for Gavin Black’s Strathspey And Jig, a square dance 64 bar strathspey and 64 bar jig composed by Aileen, which I hadn’t come across before, but which seems a fun one to try, complete with its two time signatures.

This is a fine recording which will consolidate the band’s position within the genre, and it should also make the band several new friends. Just to let you know, you don’t have to dance along, as it makes a great recording just to listen to as well!

Gordon Potter


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This album was reviewed in Issue 116 of The Living Tradition magazine.