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Footstompin CDFSR1736

Two of the Scottish traditional scene’s pioneers follow up their acclaimed 2001 release The Big Day In with Third Flight Home, an innovative and compelling collection that showcases Simon Thoumire and David Milligan’s astonishing musicality and empathy.  It’s more than evident that there’s a strong sense of communication and mutual respect between the two.  You sense this in the generosity of the arrangements and in the way they give each other freedom to express themselves and to improvise.  Besides their impressive folk credentials, the duo shares a strong and impressive jazz background which they bring with them to this recording.  David has collaborated with innovative jazzers including Tom Lyne and Tom Bancroft, and is himself a key figure in Scottish folk orchestra the Unusual Suspects.  Simon Thoumire is currently involved with a groundbreaking project called Cascade, where he plays alongside the likes of Andy Sheppard and Kuljit Bhamra.  Improvisation features large in Cascade’s repertoire.   Both Simon and David have very distinctive playing styles – David always mesmerises with his emphasis on dynamics, melody and rhythm, Simon’s playing captivates with its precise, detailed yet improvisational feel.  

‘Third Flight Home’ remains 100% true to the Scottish tradition, however, drawing upon a wide range of material.  The title track is an intricate pipe tune by Neil Dickie and it’s played fast here.  Russian pianist Misha Alperin’s ‘Wedding in the Wild Forest’ is reinvented here with a Jelly Roll Morton-style ‘stomp’, and there’s a strong drive to this track.  Simon contributes several original tunes to the album; Charlie Warlie, My Mary (a lovely, emotional piece inspired by a William Cowper poem), and Becky Taylor’s Audacity.  Dave Milligan contributes one of his own improvised tunes, and there’s a spirited take on Elmo Lives Downstairs, a superb piece by Corrina Hewat.  Another highlight is the gorgeous ‘Welcome Christmas Morning’, written by Jimmy Shand.  This was apparently one of the first tunes that the duo ever performed together.  There’s an exquisite pair of strathspeys, seamlessly welded together in a gorgeous set entitled Lady Jane Montague’s.

Third Flight Home offers intricacy, innovation and lively interplay; you couldn’t really ask more of an album.  And the tunes are absolutely beautiful. 

Debbie Koritsas
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This album was reviewed in Issue 76 of The Living Tradition magazine.