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DONALD BLACK - "Westwinds" - Greentrax CDTRAX091

"Westwinds", is the first recording of mouth organ music from Donald Black. Donald, originally from Benderloch in Argyll, has been a player of the mouth organ for around thirty years. His earliest and longest influence being his mother, herself a player of the mouth organ and the button box. The late Iain McLachian of Benbecula, composer and player of the pipes, button accordion and piano accordion, was another strong influence in his style of playing. Traditional and traditional based music, particularly from the western side Scotland is another factor, although material included is chosen from J. Scot Skinner, Dan R. MacDonald and Ronnie Cooper.

The music includes 6/8 and 2/4 marches, slow airs and pipe jigs as well as some Cape Breton and Irish tunes with the likes of, "Kilalla Cross", "Hetor the Hero", "Coromonies Rant", "Big Geordie's Wee Still" and "Glean Bailechaoil". The style of playing is in keeping with that of the standard Scottish Dance Band, he is strict of tempo and fairly "straight backed", although at times almost calvinistily austere. The accompanying musicians, Dougie Pincock, Malcolm Jones, Alistair McCulloch, Danny Moran, Martin McHugh and in particular piano player Nan MacIver and Murdo J. MacLeod on melodeon add a balancing touch of warmth and spice.

Donald Black defines his work as being part of the body of "traditional music" and possibly allows himself less headroom than the-sky's-the-limit confines of the folk world. There is, however, some fine playing and intriguing arrangements to be heard on "WestWinds" which finishes with a gleesome "Danns a' rathad" set from The Isle of Lewis.

Peter Fairbairn

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This album was reviewed in Issue 14 of The Living Tradition magazine.