Fraser Shaw was a piper, flute player and composer, originally from Glasgow, but whose influence ran through a wide swathe of Scotland. More than that, he had the happy knack of gathering musicians around him, be it in his native city, on Skye or Islay. He died, after a struggle with multiple sclerosis, in 2015, at an age (34) where he clearly had much left to do.
Whether you have previously heard his work or not, this is a marvellous memorial to a man who made the music happen. His friends – and there were obviously many of them, playing under the flag here of the Islay Sessioneers – have done him proud with this collection. Most of the tunes are his own compositions and most of the people involved played with him at some point during his foreshortened career. And what a joyous noise they make! There is enough of the informality of the session retained to make this more convincing than some more ballyhooed gatherings of folk luminaries.
The album is predominantly instrumental, with serried ranks of fiddles in the front line and the various pipes and flutes that were Fraser’s own instruments of choice driving the whole thing forward. A special word is called for, though, on behalf of the singers who light up the album with their contributions - Kathleen Graham with Clachan Uaine, a particular favourite of Fraser's from his days with the band Cluanas, and In Friendship's Name, beautifully conveyed by Lori and Innes Watson.
The Fraser Shaw Trust, which supported this release, has been set up to assist people with MS in Argyle. Proceeds from the sale of this album will be used to further their work.
1 May 2016
Review: VARIOUS ARTISTS - Mac Ìle: The Music Of Fraser Shaw