Sian Phillips and Danny Kilbride / Jac to Bach
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Siān Phillips and Danny Kilbride
Jac tō Bach (The Little Jackdaw)
Speedy Cat (www.geocities.com/sianfiddle/spdk_site/)

cd cover As the story goes, these two veteran Welsh musicians knew each other for years before they decided to record this "unaccompanied" instrumental album together, Phillips on fiddle and Kilbride on guitar. For Jac tô Bach, the traditional-style tunes were composed and the traditional tunes remembered and assembled into sets in Kilbride's kitchen. Most have Welsh names, but Welsh music draws on Scottish and Irish music so it is possible to call them either Welsh or Celtic and still be correct. The tune "Danish Schottische" may be an exception.

Phillips' fiddle and strings have a heavy sound, almost like an electric fiddle, and her style is often "slippery" in that she seems to slide most of her notes rather than making them really discrete tones. The result is something like listening to a perky Celtic rock band fiddler. On other tunes, such as the newly composed Early Music tune "Clychau Puw, and the air/dance "Calch Tânfedd" her style is much more delicate, with pretty, singing turns. Sometimes the approach seems strictly traditional, but the "Ffioled Swil" set and the "Pibddawns y Minca" hornpipe set incorporate the same jazzy rag that American folk musicians often use, and the "Jac tô Bach Polcas" visit the Balkans for a while.

Kilbride's role is to accompany Phillips, sometimes in rhythm, and sometimes in unison. The CD would be stronger with a few guitar solos, but perhaps this was not the intent. At any rate, Jac tô Bach is a pleasant little album and unpretentious as well! - Judith Gennett


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