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ABERJABER "Y Bwced Perffaith"/"The Perfect Bucket" Sain Records SCD2157

This is a splendidly assured album from a trio of Welsh or honorary Welsh musicians. Aberjaber are Peter Stacey (Welsh pipes, flute, gaito galega, soprano sax), Delyth Evans (Celtic harp) and Ben Assare (cello and percussion), and their lyrical playing of traditional and original Celtic tunes compels attention. Few comparisons come to mind - Pykewackett, perhaps, but leaner and more carnivorous.

With eleven instrumental tracks and no songs, the imagination is free to saunter for fifty-three minutes. For me, the gentle percussion, harp cadences and simple cello told of rain in the mountains, and rushing streams swelling a winding river. And the verve of the wind instruments brought me to a sunlit Welsh estuary with ships sailing on bold voyages to other Celtic lands. Well, buy it yourself and conjure your own images!

There are tunes here from Ireland, Scotland, Britanny and Galicia as well as Wales. Sometimes three nations are represented in one set. North America is more or less claimed as a Celtdom too: the opening tune celebrates Madoc, a Welsh voyager who is said to have settled there three centuries before Columbus.

That tune, like the superb "The Bread Man" and several others, is written by Peter Stacey. Perhaps he is too dominant in the arrangements, but his clean, sharp piping, the jazz-tinged freedom of his sax playing and his pan-Celtic musical curiosity provide surprises throughout.

What's a gaito galega? The liner notes don't say, but it makes a grand skirling sound. Galician bagpipes? Aberjaber are coming to my local folk club soon, and I'll be there to find out.

Tony Hendry

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This album was reviewed in Issue 24 of The Living Tradition magazine.