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BARRY SHEARS "A Cape Breton Piper" CBP1

This album has everything - pipes, Gaelic poetry, excellent sleeve notes, pipes, Cape Breton's finest accompanists, dozens of great tunes, and of course the pipes. Barry Shears is a composer, researcher, publisher and talented player of Scottish bagpipe music as found in Cape Breton. On this recording he attempts to recreate the sound of the pipers who played for dancing in the farms and villages of Cape Breton, the original kitchen pipers whose music has been emulated by many Scottish pipers over the last decade. The line of these pipers was broken some time ago, according to Barry, but their music survives in old recordings and manuscripts.

The Cape Breton piping repertoire combines great Scottish pipe tunes such as 'The Hills of Glenorchy' and 'Thompson's Dirk' with fiddle tunes from Scottish and Cape Breton composers, as well as some Cape Breton pipe tunes and a fair helping of Irish tunes squeezed onto the Scottish pipes. The distinctive feature of this album is that nearly all the tunes are played for dancing: the beat and lift are the most important aspects of the tunes, and the elaborate ornamentation of competition piping is replaced here by a wild relentless style which would keep you on your feet for hours.

Barry Shears is a professional piper and piping teacher, so his playing is technically sound as well as being exhilaratingly danceable. He alternates between the highland pipes and small pipes, and gets a fabulous sound from both. His version of 'Hector the Hero', one of several Scott Skinner tunes on this CD, has a beauty rarely heard on the small pipes. Other highlights include the set of Inverness County reels with Dave MacIsaac, the following set of strathspey and reels, and the rattling Irish jigs on track 1.

Alex Monaghan

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