Alasdair Gillies: Lochbroom
A stunning release by the celebrated piper
"That Alasdair deeply enjoys playing Highland Bagpipes and our company rises wraithlike from the pages and notes of Lochbroom.
Alasdair talks to us when we read the cover, and the twelve tracks each give his own account for including the selections, while on the back page we are given the reason why the title of this CD is Lochbroom.
For me, Alasdair has flair so rare that only one or two other solo pipers can sit next to it in originality, free flowing fingers, magnificent bagpipe and the unerring ability to speak through the playing of his music.
Straight away, on track one, the first piece, ‘The Inverness Gathering’ has been totally rearranged into a lightened breath of highland air, with delightful, if unexpected, little runs and turns.
The same track finishes with Alasdair’s Hornpipe arrangement of Scott Skinner’s ‘Cameron Quickstep’, which is marvellous.
It goes without saying that the tone Alasdair produces from his bagpipe is magnificent. A thick and sweet pitched chanter sound blending with the drones. It is a very special sound indeed.
On some tracks I am surprised to hear an audience applaud their appreciation, as I would otherwise swear that it is in a recording studio such is their absolute silence during play. Who could blame them for listening so hypnotically until the final note?
I usually only associate the late Scots Guards Pipe Major Angus MacDonald and also, Donald MacPherson with ‘The Earl of Seaforth’s Salute’; but I have now added Alasdair Gillies. What a great coincidence that he recorded this piece at the Scots Guards Club in Edinburgh. He seems to defy the gravity of the beat when he hangs on to those notes which give it its special character, yet he does so without spoiling the cantabile.
Alasdair has a very high ceiling that he regularly reaches on the Competition, Recording and Recital platforms, and it is on these occasions, where the audience expects, Alasdair delivers.
Such is the case with this very special CD, which contains some surprises."
From the bobdunsire.com forum
Written by Roger Huth
"MAVERICK pipers such as the late Gordon Duncan, Fred Morrison and Finlay MacDonald, while thoroughly versed in the conventional approaches of the competition platform, have forged new directions for the Highland pipes in a folk context, but this disc focuses firmly on the traditional aspects of the instrument and its heritage.
Pipe Major Alasdair Gillies is a very famous name in piping (he was described by one American academic as the Michael Jordan of piping), both as a performer and a teacher, and his performances here are as impeccable as you might expect – powerful, technically flawless and highly expressive.
The music was recorded in the course of various live performances last year, and with the exception of one formal Pibroch, his instrumental sets draw mainly on marches, Strathspeys, reels and jigs, both traditional and contemporary.
Well done Alasdair, your Lochbroom music fills my car on long and short drives.
Each Track is a gem."
Pipe Major Alasdair Gillies is a piper whose name has become a legend in his own lifetime, both in his native Scotland and his adopted country, the United States. He has the advantage of having been solidly and soundly taught by his father, the late and much missed Pipe Major Norman Gillies. The family hails from the Western Isles, the heartland of the Noble Instrument, and has close links with the Isle of Raasay, home of the MacKays of Raasay, from whom our knowledge of the ancient art is derived. Alasdair himself had long service in the regiment of the Northern Counties of Scotland, the Queen’s Own Highlanders, and was its last pipe major, at a time when by common consent its pipe band was admitted to be the finest in the army. It was here that Alasdair’s ability as a teacher first became evident, as his pipers strove to emulate his enthusiasm and skill, several going on to forge successful careers on the competition circuit. On his retirement from the army Alasdair emigrated to the United States where he has continued his successful career as a teacher and as a performer.
Alasdair has a record of success in competition unequalled at the present time both in Scotland and in America. It is however possible to amass an impressive list of the glittering prizes through luck, supple fingers, and a good memory, and many a piper has acquired a corresponding reputation without really getting to the heart of the instrument, or, more importantly, to the soul of its music. Alasdair excels in both fields of endeavour. He can win on the competition platform with a solid display of sheer skill in the traditional interpretation of the classics, ceol beag and ceol mor alike; he can charm a ceilidh audience with a demonstration of virtuosity and brilliance in the less formal type of music with its intricate and demanding technique.
Alasdair Gillies: Lochbroom
Ceòl pìoba aig fìor àrd ìre
- The Inverness Gathering, The Cameron Quickstep,The Cameron Quickstep, Hornpipe [4.55]
- In Memory of Herbie MacLeod, The Editor’s Strathspey, The Dusky Meadow, Hey Johnnie, Alex Currie’s Strathspey, Le Petit Cheval Rouge, West Mabou Reel, Kelsae Brig, The Stone Frigate [5.35]
- Dickie MacPherson MacDonald, J. Scott Skinner’s Welcome to Inverness [4.20]
- Crann-tàra, Munlochy Bridge, John MacLean (Johnny Red-Rory, Washabuck, Cape Breton), Seallaibh Curaigh Eòghainn (Look at Euan’s Coracle), Còta Mòr Ealasaid (Elizabeth’s Big Coat [4.23]
- Cabar Fèidh Gu Bràth, John MacDonald’s Welcome to South Uist, Inveraray Castle, The Smith of Chilliechassie [6.35]
- The Heroes of St. Valery, My Home Town [3.39]
- The Earl of Seaforth’s Salute [12.51]
- Alex MacEachern, Strathearn, This is How the Ladies Dance, The Fiddler, Culder’s Rant, Mary Gray, Captain Forbes, John Keith Laing [3.51]
- Islay’s Charms, Dr Iain MacAonghais, Mrs MacPherson of Inveran [3.40]
- Lochbroom, The Bays of Harris, A Mhoire Mhìn-Gheal [3.42]
- Lady Madelina Sinclair, Mrs. Alexander Campbell, Wiseman’s Exercise, The Strathspey King, The Reel King, The Morning Dew, Rakish Paddy, Kail & Pudding [3.42]
- Chaneil mo leannan ann an seo, Atlantic Bridge, The Horse with a Heart, Humours of Clonmult, Bealach na Ba, Chasing the Ferry [0.79]