Luke Daniels,
Tribute to William Hannah
(Greentrax, 2015)

Once again Greentrax brings us a wonderful CD where good music and great history coincide.

William Hannah, for those of us unfamiliar with him, was born in 1891. He started his musical life on the mouth organ before graduating to melodeon. He served in The Great War, and after that he was a prolific recording artist and band leader in the 1920s. He was a major figure in developing the modern accordion and is said to have been a major influence on the man most of us often see as the father of Scottish country dance music, Jimmy Shand.

But like so many pioneers in all walks of life he has been largely forgotten.

Now, Luke Daniels sets out to rectify this with an album featuring music transcribed from not only the old 78-rpm discs but even wax cylinder recordings. In addition to lending even greater authenticity to the project, a Wilkinson Excelsior -- said to have been Hannah's signature instrument -- has been restored to feature on the album.

As with many instrumental albums recorded primarily to dance to, some of the titles may not be too familiar although very often the tunes will resonate. Over 12 tracks you will enjoy reels, jigs, strathspeys and waltzes, with the latter perhaps including more familiar melodies such as "Leezie Lindsay," "Skye Boat" and "Peggie O'Neill." Here also you will find "Dashing Light Sergeant" and "Boston Two Step."

As ever with Greentrax there is an informative booklet that even includes the sheet music for "Boston Two Step" as well as link to download full transcriptions of all the featured tunes. As well as being a piece of history, this is an ideal album for an easy listen or a bit of a Scottish hooley.

music review by
Nicky Rossiter

26 March 2016

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