The Tune Book Trio does more-or-less what the it says on the tin. Its front-line members – piper/whistle player Ross Ainslie, Achiltibuie accordionista Mairearad Green and fiddler Simon Bradley – have each recently published a book of self-penned tunes, and it was these that made up the set-list of the trio's inaugural gig on Saturday. The mix'n'match worked nicely: Bradley's spare, ceremonial waltzes, tinged with time spent in the Hebrides and Asturias, morphed into Green's chunky rhythms and flighty reels; most distinctive were the beguiling tugs and turns of Ainslie's ballads (names like Absinthe Makes The Heart Grow Fonder might explain some of the quirks). It'll take time for the members to absorb each other's material enough to really play around; this showcase felt like the first outing that it was.
The gig's opening half marked the launch of Manchester fiddler Emma Sweeney's debut album Pangea. Hewn from Irish roots and Indian travels, with a generous helping hand from flautist/piper Mike McGoldrick, Sweeney's blend of traditional and personal is mellow, sparky and charming. McGoldrick joined for much of this set, which closed with the album's title track: a shoes-off number in which Sweeney's fiddle sang the slidey microtones of a sitar.
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