Colin Steele - Stramash (4 stars)

Colin Steele - Stramash

Gadgemo Records
Colin Steele’s ambitious jazz-meets-folk project made a striking impression when first heard live back in 2006 and retains much of its adventure and imagination in this excellent studio recording. His genre-crossing line-up features his jazz quintet with saxophonist Phil Bancroft, pianist Dave Milligan, bassist Aidan O’Donnell and drummer Stu Ritchie, four top folk musicians in piper Rory Campbell and fiddlers Aidan O’Rourke, Mairi Campbell and Catriona MacDonald, and the eclectic classical cellist Su-a Lee.

All are allowed to make their own creative contributions to the lyrical, rhythmically energised music. Inspired by a stay on Islay to write the commission, the 11 compositions (augmented by three arrangements of earlier tunes for the band) integrate their jazz, folk and a touch of classical influences in coherent, genuinely integrated fashion. Steele extends and manipulates genre conventions in absorbing fashion, and the musicians cope superbly with the real challenges he sets.

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