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DONALD BLACK - Dreams And Dances

DONALD BLACK - Dreams And Dances
Macmeanmna SKYECD55

Did you know that the harmonica is the world’s biggest-selling musical instrument? Always like to pass on gems of information, so, you’re welcome. The most clichéd adjective applied to the moothie is “humble”, although it’s hard to see why: relatively easy to knock a simple tune out from, it needs a lot of skill to play it as a lead instrument. Here, Donald shows us playing of an unmatched brilliance, demonstrating the range and variety available from the tremolo and 10-hole diatonic models.

He has gathered a skeely set of accompanists in Ross Wilson, keyboard, accordion, double bass; Allan Nairn, guitars, mandolin, drums; Allan Henderson, fiddle; Harvey Leckie, keyboard; and Trish Strain, cello. The combinations available from this instrumentation allow a great range of richly-layered melodies and harmonies to result in an album which is a delight from start to finish.

The first three tracks alone give a taster of the CD’s potential. Right from the word go, the jaunty reel Calum Lamont, with bouncy mandolin and guitar brings out a smile of contentment and the driving pipe jigs that follow get the set name The Clappers, since that’s what they go like! By way of complete contrast, these two precede a Fergie MacDonald lament, Afghanistan, a lyrically haunting and powerful track which reflects on the futility of the waste of young lives in that unfortunate country.

The whole of the album continues to balance sets of differing tempo and timbre, all of which result in a CD which you won’t just play once then file away – this is one which you’ll want to hear over and over.

Gordon Potter


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This album was reviewed in Issue 96 of The Living Tradition magazine.