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Barry Goodman of Shire Folk

reviews Fortyssimo by The Old Swan Band

It's forty years since the Old Swan Band was formed, and this CD celebrates the continued existence of a band that has been part of the bedrock of English Ceilidh music for four decades. As with their other recent CDs, this collection contains both familiar and unusual tunes, reflecting the band's love of the tradition and constant unearthing of 'new' material from old manuscripts.
The tunes are played with the swing and drive that dancers have come to expect from the 'Swans; featuring the three fiddle combination of Fi Fraser, Flos Headford and Paul Burgess, Heather Horsley's rock solid piano, the rocking brass section of Jo Freya, Neil Gledhill and John Adams, and the wonderfully rhythmic and varied percussion of Martin Brinsford (not to mention his fine harmonica playing!).

Among the familiar tunes are 'Devon Bonny Breastknot; 'Gypsy's Hornpipe; 'Coleford Jig' and 'The Bishop of Chester's Jig: More unusual offerings include the gorgeous 'Covent Garden Row; a couple of Australian Varsoviennes' and the 'slightly sleazy' 'Haywood's Schottische; discovered by Flos Headford in Much Wenlock, Shropshire.

Informative, concise sleeve notes, coupled with a terrific cover design by Katie Coope and superb production from Doug Bailey complete the package. Wonderful music for the feet, but for the ears as well this is the Old Swan Band at their very best.