Fraser Fifield Band - Traces of Thrace (4 stars)

Fraser Fifield Band - Traces of Thrace

FOLK (Tanar Records)

It is tempting to assume that the fascinating meeting of musical minds reflected here is in some way down to the on-the-road developments worked out on their Tune Up tour featuring Fifield’s band and the Nedyalko Nedyalkov band from Bulgaria earlier this year, but the recording actually pre-dates the gigs. All the more remarkable, then, that they have achieved such a strong rapport, and one that goes beyond a simple exercise in cross-cultural referencing.

Fifield has always taken an open-minded approach to his music, rooted in folk but strongly influenced by jazz improvisation. The saxophonist and piper is joined by regular collaborators in jazz guitarists Graeme Stephen and percussionists David Robertson and Guy Nicolson, along with Nedyalko Nedyalkov on kaval (a traditional wooden flute) and Georgi Petrov on gadulka (a string instrument). Fifield’s compositions provide attractive vehicles for their compelling interweaving of traditions and the contrasting timbre and sonority of the wind and string pairings.

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