Review

the Bridges of Cape Breton County(s)

- various artists (compilation)
****1/2

The title of this compilation CD refers, of course to the fiddle bridges that make up the backbone of Cape Breton music. The last few years have seen Cape Breton-based music get visibility on a wider stage, but even without including the 'big names' like Natalie MacMaster and Ashley MacIsaac, this CD shows the virtuosity of Cape Breton fiddlers.

Sixteen tracks are included here, fifteen of them featuring traditional fiddle and one vocal bonus track from the Men of the Deeps. All but two of the tracks are from previously released CDs, some of which were already amongst my favourites, but some which were unfamiliar to me.

The compilers have done a good job arranging the sets so that they flow together. The tunes run from the raw energy of Glen Graham's strathspey and reel set with the foot stomping high in the mix, through George Paul's sweet rendition of the 'Silver Anniversary Waltz' to J.P. Cormier's Irish-influenced (and previously unreleased) 'Martin Hayes Set'.

The track included here from Buddy MacMaster's 'Judique on the Floor' is the R.P. Cummings/Christie Campbell set - a nice choice from one of my favourite CDs. Of the selections I had not heard before, I especially enjoyed a slow air 'Our Friend Archie Neil' from Jennifer Roland, and the 'Johnny Cope/Traditional Mabou Reel' set from Stephanie Wills.

About the only complaint I can make about this CD is that the liner notes don't identify the backup musicians as well as the fiddler. I also found it a little odd to see an advertisement for a restaurant in Sydney, Cape Breton and one advocating retirement in Cape Breton included as part of the liner notes.

This CD will definitely be high on my recommended list for people wanting to sample Cape Breton fiddling - hopefully they will then go and buy the individual artists' CDs. I gave it only 4 1/2 out of 5 stars only because it is a compilation instead of original material - what the heck, eh?

wil

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Ordering information can be found online.

Copyright 1997 Wil Macaulay

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