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World Music CD Reviews Celtic & Irish

ALY BAIN AND PHIL CUNNINGHAM

By Marty Lipp
Published September 23, 2005

The Best Of Aly And Phil
Compass

Fiddler Aly Bain and accordionist Phil Cunningham have played together for almost 20 years, since Cunningham guest-starred on Bain’s TV show. Since then, the two have struck up a musical partnership and brought their elegant take on traditional tunes to audiences worldwide. This collection shows them equally enamored and adept at lyrical slow tunes and breezy jigs. While their repertoire is generally Scottish, they also jump out a bit to play music from other Celtic cultures. One tune, “Waltz Of The Little Girls,” has a new age feel, but the rest would sound equally at home in a small theater or a village dance. Bain and Cunningham included several evocative tunes they wrote themselves, such as “Sophia’s Lullaby,” dedicated to Bain’s daughter, and “Colours of Cape Breton,” penned by Cunningham. In addition to being just plain entertaining, the duo is committed to preserving traditional music and presenting it to “the people,” for whom it was written, particularly in live settings. They tour Scotland regularly, playing every “Neuk and Cranny,” as they say in their liner notes. They trade some of the sweat and grit of old time music for some concert hall refinement, but they keep the tunes both soulful and fun.