With the stunning photography of Cailean Maclean and over 450 of Freeland Barbour’s compositions, The Music And The Land - The Music Of Freeland Barbour (a sumptuous 2-volume book in a slip-case) is a wonderful tribute to Scotland’s landscape and traditions. The book was published by Birlinn Ltd in October 2015 and launched with concert/ceilidh nights at The Queen’s Hall in Edinburgh and The Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow.
This album The Music And The Land - The Concert contains much of the magic of these two nights, a chance to hear just a few of the compositions from the book, and also to hear music from the distinguished list of performers. Everyone in the concert had also made a contribution to the book in some way and this made for a wonderful atmosphere and, in the words of author James Robertson, “A book launch like no other”.
The album includes contributions from The Occasionals Ceilidh Band - comprising Freeland Barbour (accordion), Mairi Campbell (fiddle), Alison Smith (fiddle), Kevin Macleod (tenor banjo and mandolin), Gus Millar (drums) and Neil MacMillan (piano) - with guests Martin Carthy (songs), Phil Cunningham (accordion), Ross Ainslie (smallpipes and Highland pipes), Simon Thoumire (concertina), Gary West (smallpipes), Jane Gardner (piano), Jane Barbour (piano), Billy Kay (speech) and Cailean Maclean (speech). These guests appear solo and in various combinations with Freeland which makes for a wonderful album of real listening pleasure.
Tracks include not only Freeland Barbour’s compositions but those of Phil Cunningham, Gordon Duncan, Simon Thoumire and more, plus traditional tunes. There is a track in tribute to the late Johnny Cunningham, Gordon Duncan, Andy M Stewart and Jim Barrie played by Freeland, Jane, Mairi and Alison, plus a track consisting of three classic Gordon Duncan tunes played on the pipes by Ross Ainslie, a friend and admirer of Gordon Duncan.
There are many other highlights on the album, including Freeland sharing sets with Phil, Simon, Gary, Ross and of course stand-out tracks by The Occasionals. Not forgetting of course two songs from the master: Martin Carthy.
A most unique collection.
Review by John Waltham
From the moment you put this recording on, you’re transported into the world of traditional Scots culture by one of its most able and enthusiastic exponents and swept bodily (it seems) into a night of music, dance, song, recitation and laughter. Freeland is aided and abetted by a stellar cast in the Occasional Band; and the special guests include Ross Ainslie, Simon Thoumire, Phil Cunningham and Martin Carthy, so you can rest assured that there’s no lack of musical ability!
The CD shares its title with the pair of books produced by Birlinn last year for Freeland, which combined music and photography in a sumptuous evocation of the Scottish landscape and traditional culture, and the resulting concerts have spawned this CD. The tracks are divided roughly 50/50 between traditional and Freeland’s own compositions, with a smattering of additional material from other sources; it’s a rich and varied mixture, but the overall feel is unmistakably Scots, with all that that entails in terms of variety. The listener is transported from jigs and reels through airs and hornpipes to recitations and a beautiful bilingual spoken lament for land lost in the clearances.
It’s all here, and the common thread is provided by the musical imagery of the landscape and by Freeland himself. His playing is superb – precise and controlled, and yet full of the emotion that typifies music at its best, and bubbling over with good humour. He’s joined by his various guests on numerous tracks, while those guests also get their own time under the spotlight.
Highlights? There are so many that to pick a few out would be to do an injustice to the rest of the CD. All I know is that you’ll get up from listening to this with a smile on your face, and a lasting regret that you weren’t in the audience at the recordings. It’ll stay close to my turntable for a good while.
This product was added to our catalog on Wednesday 01 February, 2017.