David Faulkner and Steve Turner and Helen Torpy
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David Faulkner and Steve Turner
English and Border Music for Pipes

Helena Torpy and Steve Turner
Sideways Air
Both titles: Sargasso, UK

cd cover These quiet, unassuming collections of traditional and original British music make good companion pieces. Faulkner, who plays Border pipes and whistle has a clean, sure tone. He draws from mostly eighteenth and nineteenth century sources such as Bewick's Pipe Tunes, The William Dixon Manuscript, and The William Vickers Manuscript for his repertoire. He leaves flash and experimentation to others, preferring to preserve the integrity of these old tunes by adding subtle variations on each repetition.
He does, however, get a little outside on "Jack Warren's Hornpipe," a 9/4 tune that dates from the early eighteenth century. Accordionist Turner sets up a sneaky, slippery rhythm over which Faulkner takes off, leaving the original tune gasping in the dust. A medley with the unwieldy title of "The Silver Pin/ An Ye Had Been Where I Have Been You Would Not Been So Canty" starts out with an almost stereotypical oom-pah waltz followed by a joyous reel played over jazzy, syncopated accordion chords. Faulkner makes a welcome switch to Bb whistle for one tune, the sweetly modal "Alloa House." If there is one minor fault to this otherwise fine CD, it is that the tunes often run on too long. If you're going to repeat a tune as many times as Faulkner and Turner do, you'd better have something fresh to say each time.

cd cover Fiddler Torpy goes a little further afield on her release, gleaning tunes from Sweden and France and adding a number of her own hypnotic compositions. Again, there is little in the way of flashy playing here, but Torpy's sound has a warmth and sweetness that eliminates the need for dazzle. Her original compositions have a quiet, Phillip Glass-like buzz to them. Sometimes tonally and
rhythmically ambiguous, they waft on the breeze without setting down roots anywhere. She turns marches and polskas into tender airs, delving deeper into the souls of the melodies. Torpy and Turner do cut loose on a couple of bouncy reels and schottisches, but even here, it's still living room music more than dance hall music.

The common link on these releases, and an element that makes them both work so well, is Steve Turner's subtle, tasteful accompaniment. More collaborator than accompanist, his warm harmonies and inventive rhythms elevate and enrich the tunes. It would be a treat to hear what these three fine musicians might do together. - Peggy Latkovich

The band's web site: eelgrinders.co.uk

CD available from cdRoots

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