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TUNE BOOK - Melody Lab

TUNE BOOK - Melody Lab
Sheem Music SHEEM02

25 tunes composed and played by this trio of Mairearad Green, Simon Bradley and Ross Ainslie, with additional accompaniment from Matheu Watson, James Mackintosh and Mhairi Hall - that's quite a line-up. The material here is mostly new to me - there are a few familiar tunes, but most of these melodies are not widely played, although they are apparently all published in tune books. The quality of the compositions, the performance and the arrangements are simply first class, from the cheeky ceilidh chord that introduces Mairearad's bouncy reel John And Eddi's Wedding to the dark Balkan opening of Ainslie's Dirty Bee.

Simon Bradley's music may be less well known than the others' as he sojourns in Spain: Asturiana collects three of his pieces which have a distinctly non-Scottish feel, although at times they seem more Anglo Saxon than Iberian. His strathspey Billy And Carmel's 25th Wedding Anniversary and the reel Alex Fergusson's Welcome To Ceolas demonstrate that he can still write excellent Scottish tunes, although Last Night At Rodden's drifts southwards again.

Bradley claims 11 of the tunes here, with eight from Green and six from Ainslie. Some tracks are all by the same composer, others are mix and match. The style is modern and punchy throughout, even on the change from Simon's storming Sutherland-like Salvation Reel to Mairearad's moody waltz Maggie West's. Packaging is basic and sleeve notes are minimal, but this CD is full of great music - to learn, to listen to, or even to get up and dance.

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 108 of The Living Tradition magazine.