Fraser Fifield & Graeme Stephen "Esotero"
Own Label, 2013
Fraser Fifield should be familiar from Old Blind Dogs, Salsa Celtica, numerous other groups, and three or four of his own previous CDs. On this relatively short album, Fraser plays low whistle, border pipes and soprano sax, combining Scottish and other traditional music with his own brand of cool jazz. His equally versatile collaborator Graeme Stephen plays what looks like a semi-acoustic guitar in styles from folky to freaky. As this duo put it themselves, "Gone are the days of neatly categorising music as folk, jazz, or whatever else." Esotero is a prime example, mixing Eastern and Western European traditions, jazz and trad, new music and old. Even the lines between the tracks are blurred, with most of the album presented as a seamless whole, and one or two pieces specifically written as short links. All the material on this recording was either adapted from the Scottish tradition or composed by Fifield and Stephen. The entire recording, from the title track to the final Cockerel in the Creel, is perfectly played and flawlessly produced.
At the gentler end of this pair's repertoire, the complex air Esotero and the simpler but equally stunning Secret Histories are eerily evocative on low whistles. Chase It Catch It and The Bank of Time have much harder edges, with aggressive piping and some modern Middle Eastern rock guitar. The sax tunes are sort of in between, and there are also a couple of punchier whistle numbers, especially the final pair of reels. All seven of the big tracks here are mini masterpieces, and each is a different delight. The two short interludes are fascinating too. Almost all ofEsotero should appeal to anyone fond of modern pipes and whistles, whether Scottish, Irish or further east. Things do get seriously jazzy in one or two places, but to quote another great performer, it's all in the best possible taste. I'm already looking forward to Fraser's next musical project.
© Alex Monaghan
performing with Mr McFalls Chamber 'Birds and Beasts'
new work by Allan MacDonald
see the gigs page for details.
With special guest, American saxophonist/multi-instrumentalist, David Milne
Yes that's right, Eurovision. No, not Scotland, Montenegro. Courtesy of a mutual friend, Slobodan Trkulja, I was introduced to Sergej Ćetković and the rest of the story resulted in this:
Surely in with a chance?
Only a year or so now to go before Scotland has it's own Eurovision song to worry about...another reason to vote YES perhaps
"filed under adventure" Esotero reviewed in the Sunday Herald 19th January 2014
...gigs coming up in the Celtic Connections festival, Glasgow in which I'll be performing
Esotero, the new album by Fraser Fifield and Graeme Stephen is available to purchase now
Click here to read more
The new album from Fraser Fifield and Graeme Stephen
Have a listen to the Nordanians Extended (if you like), the whole set from our recent gig at Tonejazz Festival in De Toonzaal in Den Bosch :
Oene van Geel - viola,
Mark Tuinstra - guitar,
Niti Ranjan Biswas - tablas
Fraser Fifield - pipes, low whistles, soprano sax,
Maarten Ornstein - soprano saxophone, bass clarinet,
Jörg Brinkmann - cello.
I'm not sure how long it'll stay there, but it's there at time of writing so get it while it's hot.
A phone picture of the gig during the first tune which didn't involve Maarten nor me, an old synagogue I think I'm correct in saying...in case it helps the listening experience
concert van The Nordanians Extended volgden een muzikaal pad, dat slingerde van opwindend, funky, swingend naar melancholiek en humorvol. De moeilijke maatsoorten werden makkelijk. De Schotse pipe-speler Fraser Fifield kleurde prachtig met zijn melancholieke fluit-geluid, en speelde in het laatste stuk - ja inderdaad - ook nog doedelzak!
The Nordanians is een trio van musici die in Amsterdam-Noord wonen (en daar de omgeving onveilig maken - zie video...). Af en toe speelden ze met een 4e musicus, als gast. Voor deze gelegenheid vroegen ze drie gastmusici tegelijk en zo werd het dus een sextet met Oene van Geel - altviool (VPRO/Boy Edgarprijswinnaar 2013), Mark Tuinstra - gitaar en Niti Ranjan Biswas - tabla’s (en dit zijn de musici uit Amsterdam -Noord, Nordanians) en drie gasten: Fraser Fifield - pipes, low whistles, sopraan sax, Maarten Ornstein - tenorsax, klarinet/basklarinet, Jörg Brinkmann - cello. Een opname van 19 -5-2013 in De Toonzaal in Den Bosch, gemaakt door Micha de Kanter.
(in rough translation)
The concert Nordanians Extended followed a musical path that meandered from exciting, funky, swinging to melancholy and humorous. The difficult signatures were easy. The Scottish pipe player Fraser Fifield colored beautiful with its melancholy flute sound, and played in the final stretch - yes indeed - also bagpipes!The Nordanians is a trio of musicians who live in the north of Amsterdam (and infest the area - see video ...). Occasionally they played with a 4th musician, as a guest. For this occasion they asked three guest musicians at once and thus so it became a sextet with Oene van Geel - viola (VPRO / Boy Edgar Prize winner in 2013), Mark Tuinstra - guitar and Niti Ranjan Biswas - tablas (and these are the musicians from Amsterdam-Noord, Nordanians) and three guests: Fraser Fifield - pipes, low whistles, soprano sax, Maarten Ornstein - tenor saxophone, clarinet / bass clarinet, Jörg Brinkmann - cello. A recording of 19 -5-2013 at The Showroom in Den Bosch, created by Micha de Kanter
1st performance of 'Of Gauls and Gaels' at Jazz Sous Les Pommiers festival went well...
The J-Word Tour Apr/May 2013 with Trilok Gurtu, Omar Sosa and Paolo Fresu...
photo by Sean Purser
Thanks for stopping by.
So this is the new version, sparse in it's design, and thus farewell to the last one which, with all it's refinement, I never really did understand how to use. I'm on top of this one though, inshallah, and look forward to it becoming the central hub for all my musical activities and musings, kind of like how a website should be? The views expressed within shall be not be impartial nor deferential to any particular person or persons, unless deemed a good idea at the time.