Buddy MacMaster,
Cape Breton Tradition
(Rounder, 2003)

Buddy MacMaster, fiddler of note in the Cape Breton tradition, has created an excellent cross-section of his musical style to add to your collection of Cape Breton music and lore. A generous booklet with the CD tells Buddy's personal story as a musician, including some family history, and sets the context of the music in Cape Breton Island in the present time. It also gives informative details about many of the tunes chosen for this recording.

Those who hear Buddy's playing are usually swept away by the mellifluous and heady rhythms he draws from the strings of his violin. One can imagine a warmth and vibrancy passing between his fiddle and his hands.

Buddy is especially noted for bringing out the best in every composition he decides to share with listeners. How his ornamentation and grace notes color the tune is often a sweet compliment to the composer. Though he is widely appreciated for his excellent dance music, on this CD Buddy plays tunes from one end of his musical spectrum to the other. Marches, waltzes, strathspeys, reels and jigs, both of modern and older compositions, take their place of pride as part of Buddy's repertoire.

In true Buddy style this CD displays his sense of perfection, his vitality and his eagerness to share the best of the locally loved music with the listener. Not only does Buddy continue to please listeners by playing the rousing dance music they love to hear, but he has in his own way promoted knowledge and appreciation of tunes by educating listeners in the beauty of many slow airs and waltzes he finds and adds to his playing list. He does the same on this CD.

Buddy is accompanied proficiently by his daughter, Mary Elizabeth MacInnis, on the piano. The piano is the instrument that most often accompanies Buddy's playing and he and Mary Elizabeth have a comfortable match.

Cape Breton music is a blend of older traditions and here you'll find tunes composed by J. Scott Skinner (Scottish), Ian Powrie (Irish), Dan R. MacDonald (Canadian) and Frank Ferral (American) that are all given the Cape Breton breath-of-life by Buddy and Mary Elizabeth.

This is a CD to enjoy and learn from, which is not surprising since it is part of the North American Tradition Series by Rounder Records, produced by Burt Feintuch and Mark Wilson. It certainly is a fine example of Buddy's exquisite style.

- Rambles
written by Virginia MacIsaac
published 9 August 2003

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