‘Bho m’ Chridhe’ by Donald Black - a virtuoso musician displaying total mastery(May 23, 2017)
Describing a musical style as ‘unique’ immediately sets a pretty high standard, it also places instant demands on any musician. Safe to state that in this case the description is accurate, the standard unsurpassed, coupled with a masterful ability to exceed the demands. Who does this introduction describe? Scottish Celtic harmonica player Donald Black ... reveal that name and everything becomes clear.
With his roots in Argyll, Scotland, his music constantly reflects West of Scotland Highland Bagpipe and Gaelic tradition, however his sphere of influence expands beyond his native shores to include accents of Ireland, Shetland Isles and Cape Breton. His latest album, ‘Bho m’ Chridhe’ (From the Heart) weaves a path through hornpipes, reels, waltzes, marches, jigs, slow airs and polkas ... the result is soothing, enthralling, invigorating and captivating. From the opening moments of ‘Hornpipe’ through ‘Pipe Reels’ to ‘Gaelic Melodies’ and ‘Rockfield Polka’ it’s clear that you’re listening to a virtuoso musician displaying total mastery of his chosen instrument.
Black predominately plays the tremolo harmonica, with two reeds per note, with one slightly sharp and the other slightly flat, the resulting sound being closer to the accordion than the ‘accepted’ harmonica sound. Often relegated to the role of accompaniment, Black raises the harmonica to front and centre. Listen to his delivery of ‘6/8 Marches’, ‘New Island Waltz’, the atmospheric slow airs ‘Bruach Na Carriage Baine’ or ‘Cumha Mhic Criomain’ and his touch is stunningly obvious.
‘Bho m’ Chridhe’ eliminates any preconceptions about the harmonica and introduces the embodiment of unique.
Guest musicians on ‘Bho m’ Chridhe’ include Mario Collosimo, Alec Dalglish, Colin Forgrieve, Addie Harper Jnr., Allan Henderson, Malcolm Jones, Harvey Leckie, Jamie MacDonald, Neil Macgillivray, Donnie MacKenzie, Andrew McPherson, Charlie McCoy, Ness Melodeons, Lisa Moyes, Martin Pottinger and Màrtainn Skene.
Review: Tim Carroll