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Review: Celtic Connections

Calum MacCrimmon's Boraraig/Taylor & Leigh

Calum MacCrimmon's Boraraig/Taylor & Leigh

Mitchell Library, Glasgow

TWO quite different strains of music-making featured here, the one drawing largely on American vernacular music and the other celebrating legendary exponents of a Scottish tradition.

Heather Taylor and Alex Leigh recovered from an awkward start, when her well-pitched a cappella gospel intro was joined by his yet-to-be-plugged-in guitar, to deliver a confident set of blues and country-rooted pop with a slightly cabaret-ish presentational style. The quiet and slightly underdeveloped Different Kind of Lonesome proved a good showcase for Taylor's more sensitive side and the uptempo Gambling Man showed them working well as self-contained, rocking unit.

Calum MacCrimmon's familial legacy is a source of pride to the Monifieth-based Scottish-Canadian but it's also a weighty one that he approached with caution when paying musical tribute.

Commissioned for last year's Blas festival of Highland culture, his Boraraig does a fine job of highlighting the MacCrimmons' place in piping tradition (eight generations were hereditary pipers to the MacLeod clan chiefs at Dunvegan on Skye) in music and song.

Darren Maclean's beautifully weighted Gaelic hymn to their reputation provided a moving sequence in a suite that referenced more recent family members as well.

MacCrimmon's playing on pipes of a pibroch written by his father for his grandfather was another stirring moment and there was unscripted humour in Maclean's exuberant assessment of MacCrimmon's sister before actually singing her praises added to strong contributions on fiddle, jew's harp and especially Angus Nicolson's pipes and whistle from the seven-strong ensemble.

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