Alasdair Fraser & Natalie Haas CDs

Ports of Call
  • Ports of Call
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This album is a mix of original compositions from us both combined with dance tunes from around the North Atlantic - leaving Scotland for a few forays into the fiddle music of Scandinavia, Spain, and France, hence the title, "Ports of Call"! For the most part, we returned to the tried and true duo format in the recording studio; however, we are joined briefly by two special guests, Brittany Haas and Dave Wiesler. We hope you enjoy this, our 5th CD together! - Alasdair & Natalie

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ABUNDANCE
  • ABUNDANCE
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Alasdair Fraser & Natalie Haas join forces with top Scottish and US musicians

Capercaillie’s Donald Shaw & James MacIntosh of Shooglenifty, Brittany Haas, Corey DiMario of trend-setting band Crooked Still, Dominick Leslie of Bluegrass’ The Deadly Gentlemen, Hanneke Cassel, Stefan Amidon - and a Nashville brass section led by Kai Welch!

16 tracks: The Corrie Man * Neil Gow's Wife * Howard Booster's Style * Farley Bridge * Keys To The Cellar * Connie's Birthday * Les Jumeaux * Pier Walk Waltz * Hot Club d'Ecosse * Ouagadougou Boogie * Braigh Lochiall * The Referendum * John Alick Beaton of Teanassie * On the Wings of a Skorrie * Glenfinnan Nights * The Kelburn Brewer.

THE REFERENDUM was composed by Alasdair for the occasion of Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond's visit to Alasdair's fiddle course at Sabhal Mor Ostaig on the Isle of Skye, and to celebrate the upcoming referendum.

Alasdair Fraser (fiddles, baritone fiddle, viola, kalimba) and Natalie Haas (cellos, kalimba) with special guest musicians Donald Shaw (piano, accordion), James Macintosh (percussion), Corey DiMario (bass), Dominick Leslie (mandolin), Brittany Haas (fiddle), Hanneke Cassel (piano), Stefan Amidon (percussion), Kai Welch (trumpet) and Oscar Utterström (trombone, bass trombone, euphonium).

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Highlander's Farewell: CD
  • Highlander's Farewell: CD
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HIGHLANDER'S FAREWELL Alasdair Fraser, fiddle Natalie Haas, cello

WITH SPECIAL GUESTS: Martin Hayes & Dennis Cahill Bruce Molsky - Brittany Haas - Hanneke Cassel Laura Risk - Ryan McKasson - Evan Price - Emily Onderdonk - Mike Block - Tristan Clarridge

Bringing a Fresh Sound to an Old Tradition: New Music for Fiddle & Cello

“Four Stars! Scots fiddle master Alasdair Fraser and young American cellist Natalie Haas have already created a considerable stir in their concert performances . . . A highly engaging session.” The Scotsman

"....So the idea of pairing a master fiddler such as Alasdair Fraser with the sublime cello playing of Natalie Haas might seem like a stroke of brilliance, something bold and new. But according to Fraser, it's a pairing that has deep roots in Celtic tradition. 'People may be familiar with the gorgeous, melodic cello sound,' Fraser says, 'but they're surprised to learn that the cello used to comprise the rhythm section in Scottish dance bands.'

Award-winning duo Alasdair Fraser & Natalie Haas once again unleash their dazzling teamwork, driving, dancing rhythms, and shared passion for taking the infectious melodies and grooves of Scottish/Celtic music on an exciting new journey.

Special guests include top players from the Celtic and new acoustic world: Irish fiddle/guitar comboMartin Hayes & Dennis Cahill, old-time fiddle master Bruce Molsky, Brittany Haas from trend-setting band "Crooked Still", Hanneke Cassel, Laura Risk, Ryan McKasson, Evan Price, Emily Onderdonk, Mike Block, Tristan Clarridge. Fraser, long regarded as Scotland’s premier fiddle ambassador, and the sizzlingly-talented young California cellist Haas continue to delight audiences with live performances throughout the US, Canada and Europe and with their seminal and highly inspirational previous releases “Fire & Grace” and “In the Moment”, also available on CULBURNIE RECORDS.

TRACK LISTING

  1. Highlander’s Farewell to Ireland / Farewell to Ireland / O’er the Water to Charlie / Highlander’s Farewell Trad One tune taken on an epic journey—originating in Scotland as a strathspey, making its way to Ireland as a reel, then lingering slightly with a popular jig from the Gaeltachd, and finally crossing over to Appalachia as a breakdown.

  2. Jig Runrig Fergie MacDonald / The Ramnee Ceilidh Gordon Duncan The first tune is a popular modern session tune by “Ceilidh King” Fergie MacDonald; the second tune is a reel, written for a wedding which took place at the Ramnee Hotel in Forres.

  3. The Pitnacree Ferryman Trad A very old Scottish reel; Pitnacree is a place in Perthshire on the River Tay.

  4. Grand Etang Howie MacDonald / Hull’s Reel John Morris Rankin Two modern Cape Breton tunes; the first a march from fiddler and piano player Howie MacDonald, and the second a popular session tune by the late John Morris Rankin of the Rankin family.

  5. Nathaniel Gow’s Lament for the Death of his Brother Nathaniel Gow / The Gallowglass Nathaniel Gow Nathaniel Gow wrote the first tune on the occasion of the death of his older brother William, who was also a fiddler and leader of the Edinburgh Assembly Orchestra before Nathaniel took over the job. The second tune is the Irish adaptation of the same melody. A ‘gallowglass’ is a foreign mercenary soldier (usually a Scot) who fought in Ireland in ancient times.

  6. The Wee Man from Uist Trad / The High Drive Gordon Duncan The first tune is a pipe hornpipe; the second tune comes from the wonderfully inventive mind of the late piper and composer Gordon Duncan.

  7. McLaughlin's Strathspey Alasdair Fraser Written for very fine Scottish Country dancing friends Marjorie and Richard McLaughlin on the occasion of their wedding.

  8. Gloomy Winter’s Noo Awa’ Trad This tune’s origins are a bit mysterious. It may have begun its life as a strathspey (it has been claimed by both the Gows and by Alexander Campbell), but it is best known in its later song form as created in the early 19th century by Scottish poet Robert Tanahill.

  9. Whitewater Alasdair Fraser Dedicated to the beauty and strength of the Yuba river near where Alasdair lives in the Sierra Nevada foothills.

  10. Farewell to Nigg Duncan Johnstone A modern Scottish pipe tune that won best march in a competition run by the College of Piping to mark the launch of the first oil rig from the Highland Fabricators’ Yard at Nigg.

  11. A Bruxa Anton Seoane /A MuiÑeira de Chantada Trad Two of the most popular dance tunes from Galicia. Anton Seoane of the band Milladoiro wrote the first; the second tune comes from the repertoire of the Pipers of Soutelo, led by Avelino Cachafeiro.

  12. Cragmont Alasdair Fraser Written for our two wonderful friends Pate and Judy Thomson for their 50th wedding anniversary.

  13. La Sansonette Dominique Forges A schottische written by hurdy-gurdy professor and head of the traditional music department at the Conservatoire de Nevers in France.

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In the Moment CD
  • In the Moment CD
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In the MOMENT Bringing a Fresh Sound to an Old Tradition: New Music for Fiddle & Cello

Alasdair Fraser (fiddle) Natalie Haas (cello)

Track Listing and Notes

This CD follows on from their award winning album "Fire & Grace", winner of "Scots Trad Album of the Year" for 2004. The music on this album is highly original, with most of the pieces written by Alasdair Fraser and also including a wonderful new composition by Natalie Haas.

“Four Stars! Scots fiddle master Alasdair Fraser and young American cellist Natalie Haas have already created a considerable stir in their concert performances . . . A highly engaging session.” The Scotsman

"....So the idea of pairing a master fiddler such as Alasdair Fraser with the sublime cello playing of Natalie Haas might seem like a stroke of brilliance, something bold and new. But according to Fraser, it's a pairing that has deep roots in Celtic tradition. 'People may be familiar with the gorgeous, melodic cello sound,' Fraser says, 'but they're surprised to learn that the cello used to comprise the rhythm section in Scottish dance bands.'

Fraser is unquestionably one of the finest fiddle players in the world, both in performance and his tireless promotion of Scottish music. His repertoire spans centuries of Scottish music with a willingness to push those forms in new directions.

Haas, now in her early 20s, first came to Fraser's attention at age 11 while attending one of his Valley of the Moon Scottish Fiddling School camps. Encouraged by Fraser, she began to investigate the cello's potential for rhythmic accompaniment to fiddle tunes.

In 2004, the musicians joined forces for Fire & Grace, an award-winning album that showcases a wide range of styles, from sizzling reels and airs to the lush melancholic pieces that are also a hallmark of Celtic music. The album is well balanced, with Fraser and Haas sharing the spotlight and complementing each other with effortless grace. Fraser's fiery fiddle is matched and mellowed perfectly by Haas's rich, sonorous cello."

  • John Ginn, Eugene Weekly

TRACK LISTING 1 Valley of the Moon Reel - Alasdair wrote this tune for his hugely successful annual summer camp, the Valley of the Moon Scottish Fiddling School. Alasdair and Natalie met there when Natalie was just 11 years old. 2 Between - Natalie wrote this tune on the plane flying from Madrid back to her home in New York. Musicians tend to spend a lot of their time in a suspended state between places, reflecting on all the wonderful experiences they’ve just had while simultaneously trying to prepare themselves for the ones they’re about to have. Thanks to Joyce Beaton for the name! 3 Alien Ceilidh: Alasdair Fraser's Compliments to Lorna Mitchell, Backseat Soccer - The first of these two tunes was used in the last scene of the Disney film “Treasure Planet”, where Alasdair is depicted playing it in the shape of a many-armed female alien. Alasdair’s son Galen, a wonderful soccer player, fiddler, and tunesmith, wrote the second tune.. 4 Salamanca - This tune was made on a hot afternoon in this Spanish town to the sounds of children playing in the street. 5 Cuillin Nights - Another tune honouring Alasdair’s relationship with the Isle of Skye. In the penthouse of the tower at Sabhal Mor Ostaig (the Gaelic college where Alasdair has hosted a fiddle camp for the last 21 years), while in the midst of writing the opening strathspey, Alasdair and Natalie were invaded by a pack of crazy women dressed in burkas complete with a musical stuffed camel…that was a moment not to be forgotten! 6 John MacDonald's - Alasdair first heard this tune on a beautiful recording by the band Ossian and fell in love with it. It was brought to the band by piper Iain MacDonald from Glenuig, who has yet to remember where he forst heard it... 7 Miss Laura Risk - written for long-time friend and collaborator Laura Risk, a beautiful person and fiddle player. 8 Giga de Tenerife - This tune was written (for lack of paper) on a plane from Tenerife to Madrid on the inside of a certain bag that can always be found in the seat pocket in front of you! 9 Natalie Mariah - Alasdair wrote this tune for Natalie, whose middle name is no longer a secret. Each part illustrates a different side of her personality. 10 Trip to Pakistan - We’ve been having lots of fun with this one over the years…thanks to Niall for a great tune! 11 Christina - Alasdair wrote this tune on the back of a Christmas card for the young Christina Tappan many years ago. 12 Cameron's Caper: Aberdeen Alternative Festival March, Cameron's Caper Duncan Hendry commissioned this first tune for the opening of the Aberdeen Alternative Festival. The second tune was written for Alasdair’s younger son Cameron, a very energetic dancer.

13 Willie Fernie - A "Hymn for a Teacher"- this piece is dedicated to Alasdair's teacher and mentor in the early years. He was a very inspiring teacher/violinist who played in a most soulful way and had a huge impact on Alasdair's musical life. 14 Rob Fraser's Welcome to San Francisco - written for Alasdair's father on the occasion of one of his many visits to San Francisco to play bass with the San Francisco Scottish Fiddlers.

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Fire & Grace: CD
  • Fire & Grace: CD
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Fire and Grace: Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas Celebrating the Rhythmic Soul of Scottish Music

Alasdair Fraser (fiddle) Natalie Haas (cello)

"A future classic of a Scots album". ~ Chris Nickson, All Music Guide

Dazzling teamwork and driving, dancing rhythms mark the debut release by the duo of master Scottish fiddler and this brilliant young cellist.

Master fiddler Alasdair Fraser, long regarded as one of Scotland’s premier musical ambassadors, presents the rich Scottish fiddle tradition with unsurpassed eloquence, passion and energy. In his latest collaboration, with vibrant young cellist Natalie Haas, Alasdair continues his journey, exploring the dynamic and rhythmic soul of Scottish dance music together with lyrical, sensitive airs.

The duo’s debut CD, Fire & Grace displays the duo’s dazzling teamwork, virtuosic yet playful musicianship, and love for the driving, dancing rhythms of Scottish fiddle music.

“The cello was traditionally the back-up instrument to the fiddle in Scottish dance ensembles, into the 20th century,” says Fraser, “and it has long been one of my goals to put the cello right back there, at the rhythmic heart of Scottish music. I feel incredibly fortunate to have found such a sympathetic sparring partner in Natalie Haas—we can ‘duck and dive’ around each other, swap melody and harmony lines, or play off each other’s rhythmic riffs. We’re releasing the cello from its orchestral shackles, and unleashing its rhythmic power; it’s very exciting.”

Fraser and Haas have played to great acclaim in anumerous concert halls and festivals across the U.S., including the “Scotland at the Smithsonian” Festival in Washington, DC, and in Europe, at Glasgow’s Celtic Connections, the Festival Interceltique in Lorient.

Fraser and Haas met when, at age 11, Natalie first attended Alasdair’s Valley of the Moon Scottish Fiddling School in California, and she began performing in concert with Fraser just four years later. Natalie has since joined the staff at Alasdair’s several music courses, including the Valley of the Moon School, at Celtic Connections and at Sabhal Mor Ostaig on the Isle of Skye. Currently a student at the Juilliard School in New York, Natalie regularly performs throughout the US and Europe with Fraser, and is a member of American fiddler Mark O’Connor’s Appalachian Waltz Trio. She is a guest artist on several recordings, including Culburnie Records’ “Legacy of the Scottish Fiddle, Volume One” by Alasdair Fraser and Paul Machlis.

Track listing

1 Calliope Meets Frank 5:52 2 Stirling Castle Set 6:35 3 Josefin's Waltz 4:08 4 St Kilda Wedding • Brose & Butter 4:34 5 The Scandinavian 4:55 6 Archibald MacDonald of Keppoch 4:39 7 The Sailor's Wife • The Lads of Duns 3:10 8 Shetland Set 4:02 9 Prince Charles’ Last View of Scotland 4:22 10 The Duchess 6:10 11 Rob Roy Crosses the Minch 5:26 12 Da Slockit Light 3:49 13 The High Reel Set 6:37

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Tunes from the Life and Land of Robert Burns: CD
  • Tunes from the Life and Land of Robert Burns: CD
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Legacy of the Scottish Fiddle, Vol. 2: Alasdair Fraser, Muriel Johnstone, Natalie Haas Tunes from The Life and Land of Robert Burns

Alasdair Fraser (fiddle) Muriel Johnstone (piano) Natalie Haas (cello)

On Volume 2 of this series of the traditional Scottish fiddle repertoire, Alasdair plays 'Robert Burns' on fiddle, accompanied by Muriel Johnstone (piano) and Natalie Haas (cello).

The project was inspired partly by the comprehensive book The Songs of Robert Burns by James C Dick, published in 1903. The author meticulously sets the historical and social context of Burns' work, and re-connects his lyrics to the melodies that Burns had intended. The published collections of Burns' day became the basis for selecting tunes for this recording. It was a time when every class of society danced vigorously. A fiddler might play for classical concerts as well as country dances and courtly balls. Many of Burns' poems and letters refer to fiddle music, fiddlers, and the dance, giving us insight into the social life of the day - indeed he himself was a fiddler.

Watson's Scotch Measure/Lady Mary Hay's Scotch Measure Muirland Willie/Hoop Her & Gird Her/Merrily Danced the Quaker's Wife/The Hemp Dresser The Yellow-Haired Laddie/Afton Water Argyle Bowling Green/Earl of Hynford's Reel/Miss Farquharson of Invercauld's Reel/Hon. Mrs. Campbell of Lochnell's Reel Hey, Tutti, Taitie (Scots, Wha Hae) The Bashful Lover/Corn Rigs/Sic A Wife As Willie Had/Duncan Gray/Red House O'er the Muir amang the Heather The Miller's Daughter/My Wife's A Wanton Wee Thing/Deuks Dang ower My Daddy/I Hae a Wife Ca' the Ewes Invercauld's Reel/The Lea Rig/Rattlin Roarin Willie/Col. David Stewart of Garth Killiecrankie Loch Erroch Side/Rothiemurchus Rant/Bonnie Lass of Fisherrow/The Marquis of Queensberry Lads of Leith/The Highway to Edinburgh Miss Johnstone/ Mr. Ferguson of Raith's Strathspey/Green Grow the Rashes/Tibby Fowler o' the Glen/The Drummer My Nanie O Sir Walter Scott/Dainty Davie/Mr. John Trotter of Castlelaw's Hornpipe Wandering Willie/Major Graham of Inchbrakie/McLauchlane's Scots Measure Within a Mile of Edinburgh Town/Bonny Wee Thing/Wha Can Help it Cadgers in the Canongate/Bonnie Anne/The Highlandman Kissed His Mother/Push about the Jorum/Lady Mackintosh's Reel/Edinburgh Castle Reel/Up, and Warn' A', Willie For A' That an' A' That (A Man's a Man) Goodnight & Joy Be wi' Ye A'/The Gates of Edinburgh/The Bottom of the Punch Bowl/The Cairdin' o't

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Alasdair Fraser CDs

Dawn Dance: CD
  • Dawn Dance: CD
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Dawn Dance: Alasdair Fraser Alasdair Fraser (fiddle, viola)

with Eric Rigler (Highland pipes, uilleann pipes) Tim Gorman (piano,keyboards) Chris Norman (flute, piccolo) Todd Phillips (bass) Peter Maund (percussion) Aidan Brennan (guitar) Mike Marshall (guitar) Jacqueline Schwab (piano) Sandy Wilson (bass) Brian Willis (drums) Jarrod Kaplan (percussion)

Exhilarating new music deeply rooted in the Scottish tradition, with brilliant ensemble performances by top-rated musicians from diverse musical backgrounds. 1996 NAIRD Indie Award Winner for Celtic Music Album of the Year.

"Dawn Dance hints at Eastern, Celtic and Renaissance strains, with Alasdair Fraser's genius in abundance. Delicious and refreshing." —Rock 'n' Reel

1 First Light * Dawn Rant 2 Dawn Dance Written for the winter solstice. Envision people gathering on the morning of the shortest day to celebrate the turning point of winter. 3 Wooden Whale * Leaps and Bounds * Skye Barbeque The first reel is named for a piece of driftwood found on the Rogue River in Oregon. I wrote the second tune for the late Tasha, a horse owned by my friend Frances Elder in her Inverurie days. Skye Barbeque refers to the difficult but entertaining task of holding a barbeque in the rain at Tarskavaig on the Isle of Skye while dancers attempt an eightsome reel on the grass between cloudbursts. This tune is for Peggy, Flora and Ronnie. 4 Stratherrick 5 Funky 105 6 Rain on Rannoch This piece makes me think of driving across Rannoch Moor into Glencoe on one of those rainy nights when you can't see past the windshield wipers ... 7 Common Ground Dedicated to Dr Pate & Judy Thomson, who brought Tim Gorman and me together. This tune was given its first airing one evening after a great dinner at their home in Berkeley, California. 8 Eilidh's Frolic For my neice Eilidh Yorston, a fine dancer and frolicker! 9 Sally mo Ghradh Written for my wife on the occasion of her birthday in 1986. 10 Independence Trail * Galen's Arrival Galen's Arrival refers to the birth of my son, who arrived hours after his mother and I took a long walk on Independence Trail, along the beautiful South Yuba River in California. 11 Pamela Rose Grant This strathspey was written as a wedding gift to Rose Grant and Scottish singer Allan MacLeod. 12 Free Rein 13 Theme for Scotland

Music composed by Alasdair Fraser

Produced by Alasdair Fraser, engineered and mixed by Stephen Hart. Copyright Alasdair Fraser, published by Culburnie Music (BMI)

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Return to Kintail: CD
  • Return to Kintail: CD
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Return to Kintail: Alasdair Fraser & Tony McManus

Alasdair Fraser (fiddle, viola) Tony McManus (guitar)

This eagerly awaited recording pairs two of Scotland's most respected artists - renowned fiddler Alasdair Fraser and guitar phenomenon Tony McManus. Their collaboration has recently been the buzz of the Celtic music scene, with festival headline appearances in Europe, Australia, Canada, the United States and Scotland, garnering rave reviews and an ardent international following.

"Two of Scotland's most sublime instrumental talents." —The Scotsman

1 Bidh Clann Ulaidh (Men of Ulster) 2 Ross' Reel no.4 * Reichswall Forest (Dan R. MacDonald) 3 Roslin Castle * Miss Gordon of Gight (Isaac Cooper) 4 The Marquis of Huntly (William Marshall) * The Ewie wi' the Crooked Horn * John Cheap the Chapman (Nathaniel Gow) * Peerie Weerie * The West Mabou Reel 5 Calum Sgaire A traditional Gaelic song air to which Alasdair has added a second part. 6 Donald Willie and his Dog (Donald Morrison) * Alex MacDonald (Norman MacDonald) * Chloe's Passion (Dr Angus MacDonald) 7 Lady Louisa Gordon's Strathspey (William Marshall) * The Highlands of Banffshire * The Merrymaking 8 Seathan * Na Goisidich (The Gossips) (Allan MacDonald) 9 Sitting in the Stern of a Boat This air was composed by the Rev. William MacLeod as he sailed from his native Bracadale on the Isle of Skye to take up a parish in Argyllshire. 10 A Mhaighdean Mhara (The Mermaid) 11 Lieutenant Maguire's Jig * The Curlew (Donald MacPherson) * Sleepy Maggie * Tail Toddle 12 The Sweetness of Mary (Joan MacDonald Boes) * Devil in the Kitchen * Willie Davie * The Sound of Mull * The High Road to Linton The late Joan MacDonald Boes was a fine pianist and composer in the Cape Breton style. She was the accompanist for the Five MacDonalds, a fiddle group in Detroit of which the aforementioned Dan R. MacDonald was a member. 13 Theidh mi Dhachaigh (Return to Kintail) "Theidh mi dhachaigh chro Chinn t-Saile" (I will go home to the cattle-fold of Kintail). The song may have been composed by a soldier who was wounded at the Battle of Sheriffmuir.

All tunes traditional unless credited.

Engineered by Bruce Wheelock at Flying Whale Studio, Grass Valley, California. Additional recording at Secret Music Studios, Glasgow, engineered by Grant Milne. Mastered by Stephen Hart.

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Legacy of the Scottish Fiddle Vol 1: CD
  • Legacy of the Scottish Fiddle Vol 1: CD
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Legacy of the Scottish Fiddle, Vol. 1: Alasdair Fraser and Paul Machlis

Alasdair Fraser (fiddle) Paul Machlis (piano) Natalie Haas (cello) Todd Phillips (bass)

"...deliciously satisfying at every turn through its unerring sense of pace. Alasdair's exceptional fiddle playing is perfectly complemented by Paul's lithe yet understated piano accompaniment, also occasionally underpinned by bass or cello. The outstanding empathy between Alasdair and Paul - playing partners since 1983 - really shows on this sublime recording. More soon please! " ¾ David Kidman

" Since at least the 1700s, Scottish fiddlers created tunes that are uniquely theirs. Rarely has a collection of reels, strathspeys, and hornpipes come together with such a fine ear for arrangement and album tune sequence. A very satisfying listening experience." ¾ Richard Dorsett, Roots World and Victory Review April 2001

".flowing melodies with an occasional dance tune played beautifully by the best Scottish fiddler of this generation, accompanied on piano in music that inspires... ...William Marshall's melancholic 'Chapel Keithack,' coupled with William Gardiner's 'Belmont', is enough to make you weep for the wicked ways of the world." ¾ Bill Compton, Sacramento News & Review and Victory Review March 2001

"This album is a beautifully played musical history and a must for any collector. ¾ Molly Alexander,Celtic Waves, New Age Voice Magazine

".It's a beautiful recording ...these will, I'm sure, soon be regarded as the definitive versions of these classic tunes. Alasdair has outskinnered Skinner with this one! Madame Neruda, Chapel Keithack and Belmont are stunning." ¾ Alistair Brown CIXX-FM

"...the best Alasdair recording I've heard in a long time, if not ever, ...great to hear him playing good old Scots tunes" ¾ Ed Miller, KUT FM

"Absolutely brilliant! The best yet, it really demonstrates Alasdair's undiluted full range of talents." ¾ Ted McGraw, Irish Radio WWWG

A note from Alasdair Fraser:

"The great treasury of Scottish fiddle music is full of beautiful melodies with enormous potential for expression, style and idiomatic language. Many of the composers were self-taught fiddlers; others honed their skills with considerable technical training. Some earned a living playing for dancing, performing in concert, teaching music, and publishing their tunes; for others, musicmaking was consigned to the after-hours. What they shared was a passion for fiddle music-music that can instigate a whole roomful of dancing within a few beats of a driving reel, or evoke tears through the sheer beauty of an air. As participants in a living tradition, these musicians inherited the legacy of the Scottish fiddle, borrowed from it, and paid it back with interest. Their compositions honour friends, family and patrons, celebrate engineering feats, recall a special place or landmark, and capture poetic moments. They represent a 250-year continuum of tunes and idiom being passed from generation to generation.

"My own passionate involvement in the Scottish fiddle reflects a family legacy. My paternal grandfather, along with other family members, helped found the Stirling Strathspey & Reel Society in 1930. My father, a piper and discerning enthusiast of the fiddle, recalls his granny at the old Culburnie croft singing Gaelic mouth music and having him sing the lines back to her until he had them note- and syllable-perfect.

"As time has passed my love for this music has only deepened. In 1983 I was fortunate to find a kindred spirit in pianist Paul Machlis in Berkeley, California. Over the years, amid many musical journeys both together and independently, Paul and I have maintained our love for this music, and finally dedicated time to recording some of it. We acknowledge here our debt to the great interpreters of this music in the past."

The duo that "kickstarted the Celtic-New Age fusion that exploded in popularity in the '90s" (All Music Guide) presents a gorgeous new recording of classic gems of the Scottish fiddle tradition. Fraser (fiddle) and Machlis (piano) began collaborating in 1983, first recording their acclaimed album Skyedance(CUL101) - tapped for tracks on Celtic compilations with nearly 2 million in combined sales - and more recently, two albums with their Celtic supergroup, Skyedance. Fraser has gained international fame as a performer and musical contributor to such hit films as The Last of the Mohicans and Titanic. He has been featured on over 150 TV and radio programs worldwide, including U.S. national broadcasts ofCBS Sunday Morning, Kennedy Center Honors, A Prairie Home Companion and NPR's Morning Edition. His many recordings include Dawn Dance, which earned a 1995 Indie Award for Best Celtic Album. Paul Machlis is highly regarded for the lyricism which he brings to the Celtic repertoire and to his original compositions on three solo albums.

1 Miss Dumbreck (trad) . Miss Cameron of Balvenie (Marshall) . Clydeside Lassies (trad) Three reels that appear in 19th century collections. Gow's sixth collection, published in 1822 has the third tune as the 'Clydesdale Lasses'. 2 The Auld Brig o' Don (J. Henry) The title refers to the 13-14th century Brig o' Balgownie, which spans the River Don in Aberdeenshire with a beautiful Gothic arch. 3 The Beauty of the North (Mais' an Taobh Tuath) (Simon Fraser) A slow strathspey which first appeared in Fraser's 1816 collection. 4 Madame Neruda (J. Scott Skinner) Wilhelmina Neruda (1839-1911), also known as Lady Halle, was one of the most celebrated concert violinists of her generation. 5 Chapel Keithack (William Marshall) . Belmont (William Gardiner) 'Belmont' is well-known in Scotland as the hymn 'By Cool Siloam's Shady Rill'.

6 Earl Haig (J. Scott Skinner) Field Marshall Earl Haig (1861-1928) was Commander-in-Chief of the British forces during the First World War. Skinner originally titled this air 'The Chief o' Bemersyde (A War Sermon)', inscribing at the bottom of his manuscript, 'a great effort, I think.' 7 Earl Grey (James Hill) . The Left Handed Fiddler (J. Scott Skinner) Hill's classic strathspey honours Earl Grey (1764- 1845), a Prime Minister from Northumberland. There was also a pub by that name in Gateshead in the 1850s. The reel was for George Taylor of Aberdeen. 8 Rose-Acre (J. Scott Skinner) Dedicated to A. McWilliam, Portsoy in Skinner's Logie Collection (1888). 9 Craigellachie Brig (William Marshall) . Largo's Fairy Dance (Nathaniel Gow) Marshall's strathspey commemorates the 1815 opening of Telford's iron bridge over the River Spey. The Gaelic craigellachie refers to a rocky outcropping where beacons were lit if danger threatened. Gow wrote the reel for the Fife Hunt, 1802. 10 The Ancient Barons of Kilravock (Barain Chulrabhaig) (Simon Fraser) In his 1816 collection, Fraser says this tune compliments 'a family who have for ages been celebrated not only as lovers of the science of music, but for uncommon proficiency and polished taste.' 11 Mrs. McPherson of Gibton (William Marshall) . The Novelty (Nuaghalachd) (Simon Fraser) 12 Lady Charlotte Campbell's New Strathspey (Robert Mackintosh) . Lady Charlotte Campbell's Reel (Robert Mackintosh) Skinner declared the second tune to be 'the finest reel in B flat extant.' 13 Miss Hannah of Elgin (William Marshall) . Sir George Clark of Penicuik (Nathaniel Gow) . Major L. Stewart of the Island of Java Reel (William Marshall) 14 Mrs. Jamieson's Favourite Charles Grant 15 The Rose-bud of Allenvale (J. Scott Skinner) Originally published in the 1920s in Skinner's Cairngorm series. 16 Seann Triubhais Uilleachain (Willie's Auld Trews) (trad) Captain Fraser refers to this as a tune 'of considerable antiquity,' while crediting two Nairnshire musicians for the setting which appears in his collection. 17 Da Forfeit o' Da Ship (trad) . Da Grocer (Tom Anderson) . Jack is Yet Alive (trad) Three reels from Shetland. DA Grocer' was written for Mr. Willie Birnie, 'a very good piper, keen enthusiast of traditional music, and a good friend to all the old fiddlers.' 18 Mr. A. Q. Wilken's Favourite (J. Scott Skinner) . Jenny Hardie's Reel (Bill Hardie) Wilken was an amateur violinist from the Aberdeenshire village of Ellon. Jenny Hardie was Bill Hardie's wife. 19 Mrs. Major L. Stewart of the Island of Java (William Marshall) 20 The Iron Man (J. Scott Skinner) . The Smith's a Gallant Fireman (trad) . The Forth- Bridge Reel Williamson Blyth . Gillan's Reel Peter Milne . The Auld Wheel (J. Scott Skinner) The 'iron man' was William F. McHardy of Drumblair, who made a fortune in engineering enterprises in South America; he was Skinner's friend and benefactor. The second tune refers to the village blacksmith's role in extinguishing unwanted blazes. The third celebrates the 1890 opening of the magnificent cantilever bridge near Edinburgh. 'The Auld Wheel' referring to the Mill 0' Him, is what Skinner dubbed a 'birling' reel. 21 Niel Gow's Lament for the Death of his Second Wife (Niel Gow) In remembrance of Margaret Urquhart of Perth, to whom Gow was married for 30 years.

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Skyedance: CD
  • Skyedance: CD
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Alasdair Fraser (fiddle, viola) Paul Machlis (piano, synthesizers) Tommy Hayes (bodhran) Todd Philips (bass) Ron Wilson (drums)

A classic album with widespread appeal. Alasdair Fraser and Paul Machlis together explore the breathtaking harmonic resonances of ancient Gaelic airs, with contemporary settings of tunes from the Reverend Patrick MacDonald's 1784 Collection of Highland Vocal Airs and Captain Simon Fraser's 1816 edition of Airs and Melodies Peculiar to the Highlands of Scotland and the Isles.

1 The Scolding Wives of Abertarff * I'll Break Your Head for You * Catch and Kiss the Romp * The Haggis These are all both songs and dances. According to Simon Fraser, the first tune "had its origin from an observation of the late parochial minister of Abertarff, who used to say that of a number of respectable people who lived there, they were never withut some disputes that embittered their lives, chiefly among the females. These must have run high when the minister christened the place by the epithet Little Hell". I'll Break Your Head for You comes from the Isle of Skye, in which one half of the dancers "preserve a posture of attack and the other half a posture of defence." The Haggis is described as a dance and song "wherein the piper compares his bag and chanter to a well stuffed haggis with its pin." 2 Eilean Beag Donn a' Chuain (Little Brown Island in the Sea) (Donald Morrison) A modern Gaelic song first published by Acair in 1982 in Eilean Fraoich (Lewis Gaelic Songs and Melodies). 3 Skye Dance 4 Nighean Donn a' Chuailean Riomhaich Learned from the Gaelic folk group Na h-Oganaich (Young Blood). 5 Ruileadh Cailleach, Sheatadh Cailleach (An Old Woman Would Reel, An Old Woman Would Set) * The Bird's Nest * Harris Dance The first tune is a very old port-a-beul (mouth music) song from the Isle of Barra. The Bird's Nest was taken from a recording of Cape Breton fiddler Angus Chisholm. He learned the tune from the singing of his mother, a native Gaelic speaker. 6 The JB Reel (J Murdoch Henderson) * The Shepherdess * The JB Reel The JB Reel comes from an anthology of tunes entitled Flowers of Scottish Melody, published in 1932 by J. Murdoch Henderson. The tune was written in honour of James B. Peterson of Cullen. 7 Harris Dance * Skye Dance * Lochiel's Awa' to France * Harris Dance Lochiel's Awa' to France is a popular old reel also known as Lochiel's Farewell to Isla and Lochiel's Rant. 8 A Nochd Gur Faoin mo Chadal Dhomh (Tonight my sleep will be restless)

All arrangements by Fraser/Machlis, traditional unless credited.

Produced by Alasdair Fraser, Paul Machlis and Oliver DiCiccio.

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Alasdair Fraser's Skyedance band

Way Out to Hope Street: CD
  • Way Out to Hope Street: CD
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Alasdair Fraser (fiddle, viola) Eric Rigler (Great Highland Bagpipe, uilleann pipes, Scottish small-pipes) Chris Norman (wooden flute, piccolo) Paul Machlis (piano, organ, keyboards) Mick Linden (fretless bass) Peter Maund (percussion)

Featuring virtuoso instrumentalists who were brought together by top Scots fiddler Alasdair Fraser during the recording of his Indie Award-winning album Dawn Dance. Virtuosity meets vision as the six members of Skyedance unite their considerable creative spirits in original compositions which push the envelope of the Scottish tradition. Way Out to Hope Street presents music ranging from exquisitely expressive airs to rampaging reels.

"The sound of expertise - a sound to behold ... fiddle, pipes, flute and bass working tightly together, with lyrical rippling piano and the most considerate and imaginative of percussionists." The Glasgow Herald

1 Way Out to Hope Street (Alasdair Fraser) Something as mundane as an exit sign in a busy railway station can be unusually signficiant to a group of musicians during the gestation of a new album. This particular Hope Street is in Glasgow, but every city and every heart should have one. 2 Walking the Plank (Eric Rigler) A reference to 'traditional' pipe compositions and the occasional edge on which one can live life. 3 Donostia (Paul Machlis) The lovely Basque city of Donostia, known also as San Sebastian, is the home of Syntorama, our gracious hosts and tour organisers in Spain. With thanks to Mikel, Cruz and all. 4 Year's Turning (Paul Machlis) The title is inspired by Dylan Thomas' 'Poem in October', which closes with 'O may my heart's truth, Still be sung, On this high hill in a year's turning.' 5 Midnight on Raasay * The Braemar Cappuccino (Alasdair Fraser) 6 Dizzy (Mick Linden) Written in celebration of, and recuperation from, a unique and potent beverage called Txakoli, which has its own festival in the Basque Country. 7 Stoney Run (Chris Norman) In honour of a beautiful stream that meanders through Baltimore. 8 The Lupine (Chris Norman) 9 Dark Jewel (Paul Machlis) 10 Tathaich nam Fonn (A Song-Haunted Place) (Alasdair Fraser) The Isle of Skye, off mainland Scotland, is surely one of the loveliest places in the world. Since 1987, Alasdair has led a summer fiddle and dance course there, at Sabhal Mor Ostaig College, helping to revitalise a rich indigenous tradition which was nearly destroyed by repressive church and economic forces. This air reflects the feeling of the old stone hall when the week is over and the musicians have all gone home. 11 The Skyedance Reels (Ruilleadh Cailleach * The Bird's Nest * Harris Dance) (traditional Scottish) A new version of a medley originally recorded by Alasdair and Paul for their first duo albumSkyedance, which was released in 1986 and named for a whole body of Gaelic song and dance tunes collected on Skye in the 1700's. 12 Skerray (Chris Norman) This tune is named for a place in the remote north-western tip of Scotland where the band played in the village hall in 1995. 13 Reel de Flores (Alasdair Fraser and Mick Linden) 14 Bannockburn (Alasdair Fraser) In tribute to the spirit of freedom wherever it exists, but particularly in the heart of King Robert the Bruce, who centuries ago united Scots in the cause of independence and self-determination. Scotland is currently surging with a sense of its own culture; the spirit of Bruce lives on.

All compositions arranged by Skyedance.

All compositions administered by Culburnie Music (BMI).

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Labyrinth: CD
  • Labyrinth: CD
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Alasdair Fraser (fiddle, viola) Eric Rigler (Great Highland Bagpipe, uilleann pipes, Scottish small-pipes) Chris Norman (wooden flute, piccolo) Paul Machlis (piano, organ, keyboards) Mick Linden (fretless bass) Peter Maund (percussion)

"Alasdair Fraser, and his trusty ensemble, have produced yet another amazing album of virtuoso music. Skyedance is a group that excels with talent, warmth and joy. They play together as if they are speaking to each other, with a combination of affection and aggression. Full of contemporary style and romanticism, they are unique and original in their approach to arrangements of original as well as traditional compositions. It is stunning to hear a group of such caliber. The recording itself is highlighted by an extreme spectral clarity and separation of instruments. It is very much as if you were sitting with the ensemble around you." —Ben Kettlewell, Alternate Music Press

Labyrinth from the band Skyedance, whose members feature on soundtracks such as Titanic,Braveheart and Last of the Mohicans, interweaves Scottish roots with influences from around the world, threading the path of discovery with melodic, harmonic and rhythmic interplay.

Labyrinth has been selected by Public Radio's Echoes music program as #4 of "Twenty-five essential albums of 2000."

1 The Spark (Alasdair Fraser) Dedicated to the memory of poet Donnie Campbell of Breakish, Skye, inventor of the gravity-defying Breakish Two-Step and the life and soul of many a great ceilidh. 2 La Gallega (Eric Rigler)
3 Till October (Mick Linden) 4 Cat in a Bag (Mick Linden) 5 Fite Fuaite (Paul Machlis) (pronounced "fitya fooitya) is an Irish Gaelic phrase meaning "woven into and through each other." 6 The Iron Ring/ The Boxwood Reel (Chris Norman) "The Iron Ring" draws it's name from rings that Canadian engineers wear symbolizing professional pride and civic responsibility. The rings were originally crafted from the steel of a bridge that collapsed near Quebec City. This tune is dedicated to Arthur Norman (Chris' father), a retired Canadian engineer, who still wears the iron ring and epitomizes the values of humility and responsibility. "The Boxwood Reel" is named for the annual flute school that Chris directs each July in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. 7 The Other Side of Sorrow (Alasdair Fraser) 8 Inside the Shadows (Paul Machlis) 9 When She Drives (Mick Linden) 10 Into the Labyrinth (Alasdair Fraser) 11 Ariadnes's Thread (Alasdair Fraser) 12 The Pentz Road (Chris Norman) 13 Evensong (Paul Machlis)

All compositions arranged by Skyedance.

All compositions administered by Culburnie Music (BMI)

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Skyedance: CD
  • Skyedance: CD
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Alasdair Fraser (fiddle, viola) Eric Rigler (Great Highland Bagpipe, uilleann pipes, Scottish small-pipes) Chris Norman (wooden flute, piccolo) Paul Machlis (piano, organ, keyboards) Mick Linden (fretless bass) Peter Maund (percussion)

Guest soiolsts Mercedes Peon (voice & tambourine) Hevia (midi bagpipes) Jose Manuel Tejedor (Asturian bagpipes) Joxan Goikoetxea (accordion) KepaJunkera (trikifixa) Mikei Laboa (vocal) Oreka TX (txalaparta)

"This is top-flight concert music, magical in its shadings, its emotional complexity and in its multicultural interweavings." - Bill Compton, Sacramento News & Review

This live concert CD from the Celtic supergroup Skyedance -- featuring Scottish fiddle master Alasdair Fraser, piper Eric Rigler, flutist Chris Norman, pianist Paul Machlis, bassist Mick Linden & percussionist Peter Maund -- captures stunning performances, integrating songs and tunes from illustrious Spanish musicians with Skyedance's hallmark Celtic fusion instrumentals. Guests include the ebullient Basque accordionist Kepa Junkera, Latin Grammy nominee midi-bagpiperHevia, Galician singer Mercedes Peón (who was recently nominated for a BBC World Music award) and more. Skyedance's first release, Way out to Hope Street, was an Indie finalist for Best Celtic Album; their second CD, Labyrinth, made the Tower Top Ten picks for Ambient/ Instrumental releases in 2000.

1 Harris Dance Performed by Skyedance with José Manuel Tejedor Ruileadh Cailleach . Dawn Rant (Fraser) . Harris Dance

The great Asturian piper José Manuel Tejedor joins us to open with some Highland tunes from the early days of Fraser/Machlis, combined with a reel from my Dawn Dance album.

2 Dizzy (Mick Linden) Performed by Skyedance with Kepa Junkera

Written by Mick in honour of his meeting with the joltingly memorable Basque beverage called txakoli. This piece seemed perfectly suited to the high energy and incredibly exciting playing of Basque accordionist Kepa Junkera on the trikitixa.

3 Marabilla (Mercedes Peón) Performed by Mercedes Peón with Alasdair Fraser, violin and Paul Machlis, keyboards

What a pleasure to meet and play with this powerful, beautiful and artistic woman! Mercedes is doing a stellar job of moving Galician traditions into the 21st century while giving due credence to the rich and colourful history of her culture. The arrangement of this song is based on the recording by Mercedes Peón and Xosé Lois Romero on the album Isué. 4 Dinky's Medley Performed by Skyedance Dinky's . Muilean Dubh . Twisted Bridge . Molly Rankin (J.M. Rankin)

A fine, rollicking bunch of tunes from the band. 5 Cries and Shrieks of Woe Performed by Chris Norman, wooden flute Cries and Shrieks of Woe . Three Highland Dances

These tunes are from an important collection of tunes published in 1784 by the Reverend Patrick McDonald of Skye 6 A Stór Mo Chroí Performed by Eric Rigler, uillean bagpipes

Translates as "Jewel of My Heart". The melody is very old. 7 Stoney Run (Chris Norman) Performed by Skyedance with Oreka TX

Many thanks to Igor Otxoa and Harkaiz Martínez of Oreka TX for unleashing so beautifully the ancient Basque sound of the txalaparta on this modern Celtic number! Chris Norman wrote this piece in honour of a beautiful stream that meanders through Baltimore. 8 The Spark (Alasdair Fraser) Performed by Skyedance with Hevia and Joxan Goikoetxea

Written in memory of Donnie "Crotal" Campbell of Skye. Many thanks to the groundbreaking Asturian piper Hevia and to our wonderfully expressive Basque friend Joxan Goikoetxea for lending their talents to this crazy romp. 9 Way Out to Hope Street (Alasdair Fraser) Performed by Skyedance with Joxan Goikoetxea and Oreka TX

The title cut from the band's first album. This tune is dedicated to Glasgow's Celtic Connections festival, which happens around the area of Hope Street, and where we see every January a wonderful coming together of cultures. 10 Theme for Scotland (Alasdair Fraser) Performed by Alasdair Fraser, violin; Eric Rigler, uillean bagpipes; Paul Machlis, keyboard

I wrote this tune as a tribute to the people who have worked hard to establish Scotland as a country where the voice of the individual can be heard. The formation of the Scottish Parliament in May 1999 was a great step in that direction. 11 Donostia (Paul Machlis) Performed by Skyedance with José Manuel Tejedor

Paul Machlis wrote this piece in honour of the beautiful Basque city of San Sebastian (Donostia). It opens with the unusual sound of the Asturian pipes of Jose Manuel Tejedor in duet with the uillean pipes of Eric Rigler. 12 Txoria Txori (The Bird) (Music" Mikel Laboa; Lyircs J.A. Artze) Performed by Skyedance with Mikel Laboa and Joxan Goikoetxea.

Perhaps Mikel Laboa can be described as the poet laureate of the Basque country. We owe Mikel a great debt of gratitude for taking the time to come back to the stage and sing this song of freedom once more. And thanks to the audience in the beautiful Teatro Gayarre in Pamplona for singing along!

13 The Other Side of Sorrow (Alasdair Fraser) Performed by Alasdair Fraser, violin and voice; Paul Machlis, keyboard

Sorley Maclean, who died in 1997, was one of Gaeldom's great poets. His poetry often reflects a reverence for nature and a strong-willed acceptance that nature can seem, if not cruel, then sometimes indifferent to humanity. His epic poem "The Cuillin", has been described as a celebration of the awful strength of those Skye mountains, and the affinity of the Gael with such places. 14 Galen's Medley (Alasdair Fraser) Independence Trail (Fraser) . Galen's Arrival (Fraser)Performed by Skyedance with Kepa Junkera and Oreka TX

Thanks to Kepa Junkera and Oreka TX for helping us dance through these tunes, which I wrote for my son Galen 10 years ago. 15 Tail Toddle Finale Sleepy Maggie . Tail Toddle . Fairy Dance . Maggie's Pancakes (Stuart Morrison) . The Bulgarian Bandit (Murray Blair) . Cape Breton Symphony's Welcome to Shetland (Willie Hunter, Jr.) Performed by Skyedance with Kepa, Joxan, Mercedes, José Manuel and Hevia.

All compositions arranged by Skyedance.

All compositions administered by Culburnie Music (BMI)

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