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English folk music is part and parcel a different animal than Celtic music, though the two share much in common. Both have long and storied reputations going back a millennium. Both use acoustic instrumentation that includes violins, accordions, and guitars of differing stripes. Having said this, English and Celtic folk music are different in ways I cannot quite describe. Our perception may be too colored by movie soundtracks and popular treatments of the island's folk music. At any rate, Dave Swarbrick has released English Fiddler to help clear up, or perhaps cloud further, the distinctions.
Mr. Swarbrick is considered the major exponent of British folk fiddling. The 62-year-old Yorkshire transplant from London learned to play fiddle from a local talent before becoming a letterpress printing apprentice. During the time of his indenture, Swarbrick toured and recorded widely. After living abroad in the early 1990s, Swarbrick moved home and has continued to tour and record. On this release, Mr. Swarbrick presents a series of ten of his compositions. These pieces range from the lilting "My Heart’s In New South Wales" to the dance "The Seven Keys" and the jazz-intricate "The Wives/The Battlers." Swarbrick excels on the slower pieces. "Boadicea" is a beautiful ballad as is the medley "Crazy Man Michael/To Althea From Prison/White Dress/Rosie."
Swarbrick’s music is immediately engaging, drawing the listener into a dimension apart form that heard here in America. Behind Swarbrick’s fiddle is a thousand years of beautiful English melody.
Jazz is a continuing revelation. The best show I ever attended was the
Roots Picnic at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, or was it Robert
Glasper's Experiment at Lincoln Center, or was it Chick Corea with
Brian Blade at Oberlin College? Most of all I enjoy playing guitar and
composing beats with my Brooklyn-based group Space Captain.