Buddy MacMaster,
The Judique Flyer
(Stephen MacDonald Productions, 2000)

The Judique Flyer is a difficult album to review. There is absolutely nothing to criticize in this latest CD from Cape Breton fiddle virtuouso Buddy MacMaster -- and all of the superlatives about this man's playing have already been said.

MacMaster, who was 76 at the time of recording, is the acknowledged master of Cape Breton's distinctive fiddling style. The album is straightforward fiddle music, with accompaniment provided by top Cape Breton and Nova Scotia pianists Betty Lou Beaton (Buddy's youngest sister), Joey Beaton, Hilda Chiasson, Joel Chiasson, Tracey Dares, Jackie Dunn, Howie MacDonald, Mary Jessie MacDonald, Mary Elizabeth MacInnis (Buddy's daughter), Dave MacIsaac, Marie MacLellan, Doug MacPhee, Maybelle Chisholm and Mac Morin.

As Cape Bretoners are well aware, the piano is often the perfect backdrop for the fiddle, and here it provides just the right environment for MacMaster, whose passion for the music is closely tied to his love of traditional dance music. As usual, his playing is crisp, clear and vibrant, never wooden and yet not entirely relaxed, either. His sense of precision is something even the finest of watchmakers should envy.

The Judique Flyer, named for an old steam-driven passenger train on Cape Breton's west coast, is a joy -- it should be in the collection of every fiddler and fiddle enthusiast.

[ by Tom Knapp ]
Rambles: 21 October 2001

Buy it from Amazon.com.