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Mairearad Green & Mike Vass Mairearad Green & Mike Vass
Album: A Day A Month
Label: Buie
Tracks: 10

This sparkling album is the result of a recent collaboration between two long-time musical friends, accordionist Mairearad Green and fiddler Mike Vass. As we learn from the liner note – a few years ago, Mike and Mairearad agreed to meet one day a month to play and write music together. This formed the start of their “A Day A Month” project, for which – unusually – they decided to play only traditional tunes, and none of their own compositions. Not that such a decision should be greeted with anything but open arms, for the choice of tunes is so enterprising that they’re almost all new to me – but there’s some really splendid tunes here which surely deserve much wider currency if not necessarily entering into the repertoires of seasoned sessioners.

In fact, six out of the CD’s ten tracks end up showcasing more than one tune apiece, so there’s a lot of new material to get acquainted with here. Some, like Tha’m Buntàta Mòr and Fail’te Do’n Mhisg, turn out to be real discoveries, and it’s apparent that the two musicians really enjoy exploring their melodic and harmonic possibilities. They’re having a ball here! Only the second tune of the Reels set (track 7), here titled Cawdor Fair, seems in any way familiar. Not only are all the tunes brilliantly played, but the sound is varied too, with full use made of the recording studio in order to explore textural possibilities for the benefit of the tunes as well as the listener. Not only in the realm of creative multitracking, but also in the incorporation of sounds other than those immediately recognisable as the basic instruments, like percussive effects on tracks 2 (Jigs) and 5 (Catch) – unless, that is, I’m being cleverly deceived and it’s Mairearad’s accordion ingenuity!… Mike also switches to tenor guitar on a handful of tracks.

None of the selections outstay their welcome, and the whole 37-minute disc just flies by, positively demanding repeat play.

David Kidman