Ken Hyder's Talisker - Land Of Stone
JAPO 60018 (1977)
Back in February, I posted the "Après La Marée Noire," a collaboration between folk musicians from Bretagne and Francois Tusques and the Intercommunal Free Music Dance Orchestra. I'd like to stay at the intersection of jazz and folk music a little longer, but now we'll move to Scotland and Ken Hyder's Talisker. Their first record was done for the Virgin label in 1975, rereleased on Reel Recordings a few years ago. So we'll move to their second record, released on the Japo label in 1977 and to my knowledge not made available on cd. This record was made possible by a grant from the Arts Council of Great Britain which enabled Hyder to do research in the Scottish Highlands and the Western Isles.
To properly describe what's on this record, the best I can do is to reproduce Charles Fox's instructive sleeve notes:
The Strathspey King celebrates J. Scott Skinner, king of Scottish fiddlers at the start of the century, as devoted to syncopation as an Afro-American. Hebridian choral music provides the basis for the The Men of Barra, with Minton, Nichols, Eley and Armstrong singing either individually (in that order) or as a group. All ten performers sing at the start of Close the Windows, using the rhythms of a 'waulking song', originally sung by island women as they worked the tweed. See You at the Mission begins and develops like a Gaelic psalm, unitil, once again, instrumentalists take over from singers.
Derek was Only a Bairn, shifting from the pentatonic scale to the Aolian mode, is linked by the bassists to Pibroch In Three Parts, inspired by Ken Hyder's conviction that Scottish bagpipe playing originally involved improvisation. The MacCrimmons were hereditary pipes to the clan McLeod and the scale used in this section corresponds to a bagpipe scale. The drone changes for the next part (the Lydian scale employed here was a favourite of Coltrane's), while the final section (for Ayler) is the freest and loosest of all, with Davie Webster's solo communicating that emotional intensity which seems common to both jazz and Scottish music at their finest.
1. The Strathspey King
(drum solo linking passages)
The Men of Barra Know How To Drink But The Women Know How To Sing
2. Close The Window And Keep It Down
3. See You At The Mission, Eh, If It's No' Full
1. Derek Was Only A Bairn
(bass duet linking passages)
2. Pibroch In Three Parts
a) for the Mac Crimmons
b) for John Coltrane
c) for Albert Ayler
Ken Hyder drums
Marcio Mattos bass
John Lawrence bass
Dave Webster alto saxophone
John Rangecroft tenor saxophone, clarinet
Ricardo Mattos soprano and tenor saxophones, flute
Maggie Nichols vocals
Frankie Armstrong vocals
Brian Eley vocals
Phil Minton vocals
Recorded April 1977 in London
Mixed at Tonstudio Bauer, Ludwigsburg
Philological footnote: "Bairn" is very close to the Scandinavian "barn", meaning "child" in modern English, and is still used in Scotland and parts of Northern England.