Mhairi Hall Trio - Cairngorm (4 stars)

Mhairi Hall Trio - Cairngorm

Aviemore-born pianist Mhairi Hall dragged a piano to the top of Cairngorm (well, with a bit of help) to launch this album, an appropriate enough gesture for a record very much steeped in the landscape and ethos of her native Strathspey. Not unreasonably, it opens with just that, an 18th century Strathspey entitled ‘The Source’, but the jazz-rock feel of the arrangement serves notice that this is a folk collection with a contemporary twist.

This assured debut includes a good few more Strathspeys in the course of an attractive set of tunes, a mix of Hall’s own compositions with traditional material, all imbued with a strong sense of place through either subject matter or authorship. They are cleverly arranged and deftly played by the pianist and her collaborators, guitarist Michael Bryan and another local, drummer Fraser Stone, who hails from nearby Grantown-On-Spey.

(Strath Records)

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