Monday, November 24, 2008

No cheeze or schmaltz on this CD!

I've been meaning to post about Jori Chisholm's new CD "Bagpipe Revolution" since I purchased it on Oct 23. I had not intended to write a whole "review". I used to write record reviews professionally and the reason I stopped is that I found a) my opinion really isn't important, it's just my opinion, b) once in print a review becomes "forever", so if my point of view changes it's hard to correct, and c) if someone doesn't like what I wrote, a year or two later, they come to me and say "how could you write that! How dare you!"

That caveat aside, I'll just briefly say I quite like Bagpipe Revolution. The CD has a wide variety of expression, given the use of Highland pipes, small pipes, and concert tuned pipes, accompanied by piano, steel pedal guitar (a great touch), electric guitar, and percussion.

Jori avoids many of my personal pet peeve pitfalls of pipe recordings (I know, too many peas) that attempt to incorporate other instrumentation. You won't hear any cheezy Casio keyboard accompaniment here. Nor will you hear any overbearing disco bass drum pounding. And thankfully the folkish settings are absent that schmaltzy bean sprout-stuck-in-the-teeth-folksy-wolksy vibe. You know what I mean, and if you don't, rent "A Mighty Wind". But being the purist I am, I would have liked a couple more tracks of solo piping without extra instruments.

Most impressive to me is the rendition of the piobaireachd "Too Long In This Condition". On it's own it's a feat to lay down a perfect tune that's over nine minutes long. There are ample opportunities for error and for the pipe to go out of tune--
you did do this in one take, right Jori? What makes this so impressive is that Jori recorded a harmony part. That doubles the chance for error and potentially complicates the recording process. But the tuning stays sweet and the execution perfect throughout, resulting in a beautiful version of this tune.

So, enough on the opining. I'll leave it to those more qualified and just say congratulations to Jori on releasing the first recording by a Seattle based bagpiper. Piping recordings are unusual in that, for example, any and every local rock band releases their recordings. Many are awful. Pipers, however, seem to have some level of humility, or fear of humiliation, or just the good judgment, not to foist their mediocre recordings on the world.

Jori has the good judgment--and piping skills to back it up--to have released Bagpipe Revolution. Now click on the link and support your local piper. And I'll get back to keeping my opinion to myself.