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Gordon Potter of The Living Tradition

reviews Fortyssimo by The Old Swan Band

Among reviewers, and folkies in general, of (ahem) a certain age, there seem to have been an awful lot of fortieth anniversaries recently! Without fail, on each of these occasions, people gather around saying how they can't think where the time has gone, yadda, yadda. With the best of these recollections, however, there can be a feeling that the celebrants have just always been there a sure sign of acceptance into the great family of our music.
Newer readers may need reminding of the emergence of the Old Swan Band from the original Cotswold Liberation Front but many will be familiar with the current line up of John Adams, trombone; Martin Brinsford, harmonica and percussion; Paul Burgess, fiddle; Fi Fraser, fiddle; Jo Freya, saxophones and whistles; Neil Gledhill, bass saxophone; Flos Headford, fiddle; and Heather Horsley, keyboard. All of the above play in a variety of other bands, so the cross fertilisation of tunes and ideas for arrangements is immense and put here to brilliant use in this collection of dance music which threatens to slap you if you try to opt out of dancing along to it.

The tunes are drawn from a variety of Morris traditions, English, Scottish and Irish manuscript collections, Quebec, Jimmy Shand and modern compositions, so no question about the range of influences, which are drawn on to form an essentially English style of playing, with a lightness of touch indicating musicians who instinctively understand each others' strengths.

A superb tribute to their significant anniversary listen to it, dance to it and enjoy it!