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Magaid a Phipir - [The Piper’s Whim] - Rory Campbell

Lochshore CDLDL 1250

Rory Campbell will be familiar to many LBPS members as a tutor, competitor and judge, but his reputation is burgeoning in wider musical circles too as a young musician of great talent who has already begun to make a significant contribution to the musical tradition of Scotland. As piper and whistle player in both Deaf Shepherd and Caledon, Rory has raced through his apprenticeship to emerge as a musical journeyman of note who shows every sign of making it all the way to master craftsman.

This, his first solo offering, places him amongst the select band of pipers come multiinstrumentalists who have been prepared to put their music to the public knowing that it will inevitably be dismissed by the conventionalists as, at best, a ‘bit of fun’. Fun there is, in plentiful measure on this album, and indeed it’s none the worse for that. Yet, towards the end of set one a wee foot on the brakes wouldn’t have gone amiss for my tastes, but the speed and dexterity is matched with an impressive feel for the more gentle mood, and overall the album has a balance which makes for over fifty minutes of wonderful entertainment.

Rory appears equally comfortable with metal in his hands as he does with wood, and seems to have mastered that elusive cross-octave breath control that differentiates a real whistle player from a piper who also happens to play the whistle. The low whistles feature strongly throughout, but it is perhaps in the quieter moments that the class really shines through - the accompanied ‘Tangasdale’ in particular shows off this instrument in all its breathy beauty.

The smallpipes are also well represented and come to the fore in ‘The Dreams of Old-Pa Fogerty’, tastefully accompanied on the piano by Brian McAlpine. Indeed, Rory surrounds himself on this album with an array of very able musicians, all skilfully controlled and             directed by producer Fred Morrison. But it is family rather than friends who provide the highlights for me - Rory’s father Roddy adding powerful voice to ‘Gur Milis Morag’, a Gaelic love song which receives full musical justice in this combination of whistle, Highland pipes, fiddle and vocals.

Rory Campbell is what I would call a true traditional musician: He does not only take from the tradition but gives to it too. A ta rough count, there are fourteen tunes here which are self-penned but which sit in total comfort with the older melodies around them. It is vital that our young musicians be encouraged to do this. Obviously time will deem some to be better than others, but is that not how the tradition has always worked? He is also very outward looking in his search for inspiration and draws willingly on such parallel traditions as those of Asturias and Brittany.

In all, this is an album of high quality and entertainment value and comes highly                           recommended.

Gary West.