Susana Seivane - Mares de Tempo
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Susana Seivane
Mares de Tempo
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cd cover It took me a while to warm to this third recording by Galician piper Susana Seivane. Not what I expected. Too jazzy; too contemporary. And vocals! Why sing when one plays one of the most articulate gaitas around? But perseverance is rewarded. Mares de Tempo grew on me, in part because its production embodies a coherent vision of living, developing tradition; in part, because Seivane's voice is more than serviceable and pretty, but expressive and disciplined; but mostly, because her playing rises to every challenge posed by the recording.

"Retrato de Fiona" eases you into the album with a swinging common-time guitar strum and a bright gaita melody, light skipping of grace notes accentuated by military-style trap drum and joined in parts by bass. The happy polyrhythmic march "Andoriña Mariñeira" lights up with one of those danceably exultant Galician melodies, well served by the jazzy percussion and accordion, and even by the smooth alto sax, Seivane's mastery is evident in quick yet perfectly intoned swoops, slides, and warbles, a performance that will beguile even those less than enthused with bagpipes. The slow, trancy air "O Sagredo" debuts Seivane's vocal, pleasant and approachable, embellished by harp and flute, dense hand percussion and bass filling out the sound. Then it's back to instrumentals with "Olla Como Se Peneira," a syncopated rumba with exceptional percussion featuring castanets and handclaps, harp backing especially dense and effective, Seivane's high gaita lead magically avoiding shrillness, and an unexpected 6/8 break in the center.

"Coneço do Verdo/Polca do Ulla" starts with a lively accordion polka, switches to glottal gaita and picks up some complex, jazzy chording, swing taking command in a brief flute fugue, an exciting modern riff on traditional sounds. "Muñeira de Alén" is a calm, pretty song fitting Seivane's voice nicely. The violin backing breaks into a speeded-up solo, tightly coordinated with the percussion, before dramaticly returning to the main melody, ending on a dense multi-tracked vocal chord. The standout track is "Xota de Liñares," a slow, stately waltz with heavy accent on the second beat, Seivane's vocal in compelling harmony with Jara Ortiz's, a thrilling large vocal chorus entering along with dense instrumentation, the theme repeated insistently with more the effect of building drama than trance; it could go on for days with no loss of power.

Mares de Tempo comes in a lovely fold-out package, with notes in Galician, Spanish, and English. The bonus DVD included is not coded for US players, but can be viewed on computer systems equipped with a Region 2 codex. But the music is the center of attraction anyway. Susana Seivane's gaita is magic with a contemporary edge. - Jim Foley

CD available from cdRoots

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