Ian McKinnon &
Gayle H. Martin,
Air Races
(Ground Swell, 2000)

When I first sat down to review Air Races, I figured this was going to be a bagpipe disc like so many others on the market today. After all, one's as good as another, right?

Well, no, actually. And I was proven very wrong from the get-go, with "Hector the Hero." In this first track, Gayle H. Martin's beautiful accompaniment on the pipe organ sets off well against Ian McKinnon's pipes.

McKinnon, who plays pipes, low D tin whistle and harmonica, performs duets with Martin, who plays pipe organ and piano. Both show off a dynamic style of instrumentation that interacts well with each other.

Both do get their moments to shine -- McKinnon with his toe-tapping "Trip to Mabou Ridge," and Martin with "Scotch Strathspey & Reel."

In fact, all eleven tracks offer each a unique arrangement of melody and note that, while not what I'm used to hearing, still offer a treat to the ears. From the loving "If You were Mine" to the last and title track, the peaceful "Air Races," the album offers a mellow, upbeat collection for intimate occasions or background for a quiet evening.

[ by Charlie Gebetsberger ]