MP3 Bachue - The Butterfly
It’s not often that a quartet demands adjectives like “orchestral” and “cinematic” to describe the scale and power of their sound – but then you don’t hear many quartets like Bachué.
11 MP3 Songs
FOLK: Modern Folk, JAZZ: World Fusion
bachué [bash-oo-ey] m f Two or more musicians; many strings – mix of traditional & contemporary. Often mispronounced – not a Gaelic word.
“The music is instrumentally dazzling... this is the kind of thing someone like Chet Baker might have played, had he strayed into Scottish music."
"Sheer musical expression…a new musical entity is created by the complete blending of two musical forms. The players take chances…smiling as they pull off another audacious run, stretching a phrase until it is about to break then getting back at the last possible, exquisitely-timed instant."
”ever wondered what Billie Holiday would have sounded like were she born in Scotland?”
"…give your ears a treat."
THE SCOTSMAN *****
It’s not often that a trio demands adjectives like “orchestral” and “cinematic” to describe the scale and power of their sound – but then you don’t hear many bands like Bachué. The big, bold and beautiful music currently being made by singer/harpist Corrina Hewat and pianist David Milligan (joined by trumpeter Colin Steele and percussionist Donald Hay on their third album The Butterfly, recently released on Big Bash Records) offers ringing endorsement to a recent description of Scotland’s folk music scene as “probably the most experimental in the world”.
All three players involved here have played a prominent role in bringing that wider situation about. Hewat and Milligan originally launched themselves as the duo Bachué Café back in 1995, cropping their name in time for their second album, A Certain Smile, in 1999. Over that time and since, they’ve earned steadily widening renown not simply as gifted and strikingly original musicians, but as a veritable two-person musical ideas factory.
Both were early recipients of New Voices commissions from Celtic Connections, and participants in the prestigious Distil programme of creative workshop weekends. Hewat was a key presence in the Scottish Women concert and touring projects, and released a superb solo CD last year, while Milligan also heads his own highly regarded jazz trio.
By far their biggest recent venture, though, has been The Unusual Suspects, the ground-breaking contemporary folk megaband that’s taken audiences by storm at every gig since its launch two years ago, and whose debut album is also just out.
And so back to Bachué, of which Hay has become a regular member over the past few years. Not that they’ve been seen out and about much during that time (having had a few other things on the go), but this only helps to amplify the brilliantly resounding impact they achieve here. It’s clear that at least some in the audience recall them primarily as a cool, downbeat duo – and they can still do that sublimely well, as in Hewat’s mesmerising rendition of the traditional classic Lovely Hannah, underlaid by Milligan’s sensitive answering chords.
But then they let rip with something like the Breton-based set Rencontre, a bravura madcap cartoon soundtrack for grown-ups, gleefully colliding dramatic grandeur with downright cheek. Or the Celtic reggae romp that kicks off Eilidh Shaw’s Trip In Germany, or the searing, slow-build epic tragedy of Orphan Wedding, Andy M Stewart’s fact-based ballad.
As ever, Hewat and Milligan’s early jazz training is a vital factor throughout Bachué’s sound, from the gorgeous velvety piquancies of Hewat’s singing to the improvisational freedom in which they delight.
Beyond this, however, all three players share an extraordinary technical facility and fecundity of ideas when it comes to rhythm. Both harp and piano, after all, essentially create melody out of percussion, and Hay is one of those rare drummers who can do that, too.
The result is a kaleidoscopic sound that combines instant appeal with cutting-edge thrills, whether the threesome are in full-pelt chase formation, ducking and diving in a riot of harmonic colour and contrast, or resolutely nailing the same beat in precise unison, even as each pursues a distinct trajectory through the mix.
Jazz has become the ‘buzz’ word on the open stage of world popular music at the moment with young upstarts such Jamie Cullum being bandied about as the new Elvis. Well, I can’t quite see it that way myself yet but at the same token I’m willing to admit that jazz has ingrained itself in my consciousness recently. Conjuring images of smoky backroom bars Bachue (pronounced ba-shoo-ey) feature the combined talents of Corrina Hewat (vocals & electroharp), David Milligan (piano), Donald Hay (drums) and Colin Steele (trumpet) and make their music essential listening. The obscure opening track, with references to Tom & Jerry leads to ‘Light Of The Moon’ seductively sung (and written) by Corrina and I’m totally won over! A study in restraint the song’s sparse arrangement of gently plucked harp on a bed of sumptuous piano chords and gently employed brushwork is as pure as silk.
Now, for those of you who feel betrayed that ‘folk’ has been cruelly exorcised from the repertoire need not worry as ‘Eilidh Shaw’s Trip In Germany’ and the wonderful Ivan Drever (from his days in Wolfstone) composition ‘Cleveland Park’ are given smart new arrangements. There’s even a version of Andy M Stewart’s ‘Orphan’s Wedding’ and the Robert Burns song ‘Mirk Mirk Is The Midnight Hour’ for the real traditionalists. This is an album that will catch you unawares with its uniqueness and it’s all the more refreshing for it.
Go on, impress your friends and yourselves and put this music above the likes of Katie Melua for style and content. Oh yeah, another thing, it’s great to chill out to as well!
Further information is available from the band’s website https://www.tradebit.com
CORRINA HEWAT BIOGRAPHY & QUOTES
"Hewat''s sultry vocalizing has just a pinch of funky improvisation – just listen to her exuberant wordless singing"
"She blends a jazz singer''s flexibility, a blues singer''s economy and a folk singer''s heart into a style that''s both natural and her very own."
"almost indecently sexy version of Burn’s Lassie Lie Near Me, led by Corrina Hewat with spine-tingling, blue-toned close harmonies"
"Corrina Hewat is a superb singer, a virtuoso harpist & very gifted composer. She''s also highly individual, very playful & never twee. At least one of her own instrumentals will likely remind you more of Thelonious Monk than of any other Celtic harpist"
Corrina Hewat was brought up surrounded by folk music, first in Edinburgh then in the Black Isle. In order to expand her harmony knowledge and technical ability on the harp, she completed a degree in jazz in 1993 which has greatly enriched her work within the Scottish traditional scene, in bands such as vocal trios Chantan and Shine and the astonishing quartet Bachue. She is musical director of the Songs of Conscience show to be premiered in January 2007 at the Celtic Connections Festival working with singers Odetta, Laura Boosinger, Karine Polwart, Thea Gilmore and others. She is also co-musical director, along with her husband David Milligan of the 22-piece folk ‘orchestra’ big band the Unusual Suspects, while also contributing to over thirty CD releases since she began performing. She is also a composer and arranger, having written four large scale commissions, with frequent radio and infrequent television appearances, while also touring all over the world. Her current projects include a girly trio with Karine Polwart and Annie Grace, a duo with Kathryn Tickell and a second solo album.
She has released a book of Scottish Harp arrangements with an accompanying 43 minute cd, to be found on the Taigh na Teud music publishers catalogue.
DAVID MILLIGAN BIOGRAPHY & QUOTES
“A dazzling display of technical skills and invention… makes an enormous impression - a keyboard master of today who is more melodic than, say, Bobo Stenson, but gentler than Jarret. Certainly that''s the sort of company he belongs in.”
"Widely recognised as one of Scotland''s most inventive young pianists . . . standing in the vanguard of what is hopefully a nascent new direction in contemporary Scottish music."
THE LIVING TRADITION
"Dave Milligan''s playing makes me ashamed of my bigotry towards pianos in folk music - if only they were all like this."
“Excellent… He has a technique that opens rich possibilities in any contemporary piano style. If a small scene like Scotland’s can hold two piano giants like Brian Kellock and Milligan, who else is around the corner?”
Dave was born and grew up in the village of Denholm in the Scottish Borders. He started playing the piano at the age of six, and eventually went on to study jazz and contemporary music at the City of Leeds College of Music in England, before returning to settle in Edinburgh in 1993. Dave is heavily involved in a wide variety of projects within the UK music scene. His principle reputation lies in his work as a jazz pianist, and was known to many for his playing with some of the leading mainstream jazz players. But he''s also recognised for his unique crossover style of piano playing - merging his natural talent for jazz and improvisation with the traditional folk music of his native Scotland, he has created his own inimitable sound and has performed throughout Europe, USA, Canada and Asia.
As a performer, Milligan has played with jazz musicians such as Art Farmer, Scott Hamilton, Pete King, Harry Allen, Charlie Mariano, Valery Ponamarev, Bill McHenry, Julian Argüelles, Roy Williams, Alan Barnes, Sam Newsome, Howard Alden, Carol Kidd, Warren Vache, Terry Gibbs and Buddy DeFranco.
In other collaborations he has performed with leading folk musicians including Eliza Carthy, Liz Carroll, Natalie MacMaster, John McCusker, Kathryn Tickell, Alasdair Fraser, Catriona Macdonald, Simon Thoumire, John Doyle, Annbjørg Lien, Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, Roger Tallroth and JPP. Collaborations with other Scottish musicians include trumpeter Colin Steele’s quintet featuring Julian Arguelles; Tommy Smith’s Scottish National Jazz Orchestra; John Rae; Phil Bancroft; Kevin Mackenzie and Nigel Clark.
One of his on-going collaborations Bachué, with harpist and vocalist Corrina Hewat, has consistently received critical acclaim since it’s conception in the mid 90’s. Considered to be one of the leading exponents of Celtic crossover music, Bachué have now joined forces with percussionist Donald Hay and their third album is due for release later in 2004. The most recent project Milligan and Hewat have undertaken is the "Celtic big-band phenomenon" The Unusual Suspects. A massive 22-piece folk orchestra featuring fiddles, bagpipes, accordion, brass, harp, vocal and rhythm-section, the project, devised and directed by Dave & Corrina, has caused a sensation on every performance.