1. Dark Reel
2. Softly Spoken
6. Velvet Jig
7. S – J’s Polka
9. Piece of Mind
11. Honest Water
12. Alone At Last
compositions by Fraser Fifield
For the past 5 years Copperplate has championed the niche market of Irish traditional music on CD. Last year we strayed into the singer songwriter genre, driven by the high quality of the releases by Tony Reidy, Kate Purcell and Eilis Kennedy.
Now in 2003 we are delighted to announce our first release of this year sees us boldly go into Scottish fusion music with this wonderful new release, which heralds the arrival of a major young talent on the scene.
Saxophonist, Piper and Low Whistler, Fraser Fifield is a graduate from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. After graduating he immersed himself into the academy of a working touring musician.
The ground breaking Scottish band, Wolfstone, quickly spotted his talents, and he was off on the road, touring Europe and the US.
After Wolfstone, Fraser began playing with the North East band, Old Blind Dogs, with whom he recorded the CD, “Five” and spent the next two years touring Europe and the USA.
His next musical adventure was with Salsa Celtica, an 11-piece band based in Edinburgh, who fuse Latin rhythms with Scottish instrumentation.
Commissioned in 99 by Celtic Connections Festival he composed a suite for saxophone quintet, which reflected the different European folk traditions entitled, “Traditions”. Fraser is a highly sought after composer/ arranger/ musician in the radio and TV soundtracks market which along with many session dates keep Fraser busy and in the forefront of music today.
We at Copperplate
are delighted to have this title on our roster and will be supporting this release
with a full-scale promotional campaign to media and retail.
Unpredictable, nay even eccentric, sounds from the Salsa Celtica, and ex Blind Dog’s piper, whistle player and saxman. Occasionally meanders into the land of noodles, and the dreaded word, ambient sometimes rears it’s ugly head, but mostly this is a distinctive brand of jazz flavoured Celtic music with a real sense of purpose. At it’s best it’s exhilarating. Colin Irwin. 3 stars
Straight in with the groove - and what a groove! This is a nicely paced (not too fast) tune titled 'Dark Reel' that will hypnotically draw the listener in with its combination of layered sounds.
Fraser (for the uninitiated) was the multi-instrumental whiz kid from Scotland's Old Blind Dogs. Drawing on his extensive knowledge of various pipes including small, border and highland he knows how to utilise them all without indulging himself adding saxophones, keyboards, clarinet, acoustic guitar and even percussion to the musical melting pot.
I suppose in a way we're moving into territory already broken by the likes of Moving Hearts, Nightnoise and more recently Capercaillie and as far as I'm concerned I can't get enough of it. OK, so maybe I am into what many would say is 'elevator' music and if that is the case this one's surely headed for Heaven but (and I know I'm not in the minority here) that would be seen as detrimental to the artist. You can't put a label to this kind of music and maybe that's where Fraser might find it a little daunting as regards his marketing. It's just that as an 'art form' no one seems to know where to pigeonhole this style of music. Crossing several barriers including Jazz, Funk and Folk you can't quite put your finger on it.
Let's just leave it that this is ultimately a recording of beauty that deserves a far wider audience than it will attain in the 'folk' market place. Considering there's not a traditional track in sight, Fraser is a fine tunesmith and I for one hope he succeeds in achieving his own goals as a musician and if there were any festival organisers out there reading this review this music would be great for a late night session.
Go on - take a chance and buy this recording. Pete Fyfe
"The saxophonist, whistle player and piper with Salsa Celtica and formerly of Old Blind Dogs steps out on his own and reveals himself as, for the most part, a one-man band. And it's some band. Multi-tracking saxophone sections and choruses of whistles as well as keyboards, percussion, various bagpipes, and clarinet alongside tremendously creative solo playing, Fifield comes over as Ormiston's contemporary answer to Storm-era Moving Hearts and dispels any fears of technological suffocation or overkill. Composed, constructed, and played with skill and ranging from Lament's deeply felt Highland longing to Horo's East European gambolling with African hi-life guitar (courtesy of Graeme Stephen), this is music with heart, emotion, and tunes that the "repeat play" button was designed for".
"There are pipes of all sizes and a kitchen sink full of percussion on this solo instrumental CD. Fifield also handles keyboard and acoustic guitar, but if even if the album is home-made (in his own studio) it's leagues ahead of most Scots pro studio recordings. The quality of the playing, wide musical references, and the intensity of focus make it much more Garbarek than Gaberlunzie".
"Fraser Fifield's debut album confirms that he is one the most exciting talents to emerge in Scottish Folk in recent times, as well as one the most eclectic. He is a multi-instrumentalist, playing pipes, saxophones, clarinet, whistles, keyboards, guitar, and ethnic percussion instruments on this almost-solo album (Graeme Stephen or Malcolm Stitt contribute additional guitar on four tracks). His ingenious fusion of Celtic, ethnic, jazz and other idioms is contemporary rather than traditional in feel, and includes a couple of excerpts from his "new voices" commission for Celtic Connections in 2001".
"Multi-talented Fifield covers most of the musical families on this self-produced album; pipes, keyboards, saxophones, clarinet, whistles and guitar along with various examples of European and African percussion. Fifield has more of an acoustic bent than the likes of Martin Bennet, but his diverse influences and writing skills provide a broad canvas. A touch of jazz here, pibroch and the precenting tradition of the Highland kirk there, and the Balkan sounds of 'Horo' all demonstrate the extant of his musical palette, making him sound like a one-man Moving Hearts"
The Sunday Herald
"To call Fraser Fifield a multi-instrumentalist risks giving altogether too modest an impression. On his debut solo recording the 26-year-old -- formerly of Old Blind Dogs, currently with Salsa Celtica -- juggles more than a dozen different instruments including three varieties of bagpipes, soprano and alto saxes, whistles, guitar, clarinet, keyboards and an array of percussion implements, with just four tracks featuring guest accompaniment on guitar.
This bedroom-produced, one-man-band methodology recalls Martyn Bennett's first two albums. Its ambition is matched by Fifield's choice of self-penned material. Honest Water's adventurous, sophisticated fusion of traditional and contemporary idioms from Scotland and eastern Europe mixes well with religious, jazz, ambient and dance music influences. Its organic, unregimented feel, belying the level of technological wizardry involved, is similar to Bennett's. Pipes, whistles and sax are Fifield's main tools, the sax supplying a distinctive element in the mix, alternately in contrast and luminous harmony with the rest of the melody frontline.
Repeated spins are required to appreciate the intricacies of these 12 soundscapes, some of which need a clearer sense of direction or overall structure. At its best, however, as in the opening, Arabic-tinged Dark Reel , the effervescent Horo and the brilliantly kaleidoscopic title tune, the album resoundingly endorses his fast- growing reputation as a brilliantly skilled and excitingly original talent. "
The Herald :
('Traditions', for saxophone quintet, commissioned by Celtic Connections Festival)
"conceived in five parts, 'Traditions' described a journey through the Celtic lands of Galicia, Asturia, Brittany and into the tricky time signatures of Bulgarian dance before capturing the gospelly righteousness of Gaelic psalm singing.
With the former Old Blind Dog and current Salsa Celtica player's curved soprano set against and interacting with two tenor, a baritone, and alto saxophones, it featured some brilliantly observed writing, striking effective chords and drones, and a liveness of execution by all five players that brought to mind New York's 29th Street Saxophone Quartet gone native.
The Scandinavian finale, with its drones, foot stamps, and Fifield's ducking, diving and dancing lines, brought to a hugely satisfying conclusion a commission from a writer whose onstage reticence hides an astute compositional sense and the ability to transfer private musical thoughts into a multicultural blast for the listener".
The Scotsman "a unique talent"