Five great albums from Donald Black.

 

2017 Bho m’ Chridhe (From my Heart) Donald’s recent album – a collection of instrumental music of varied moods and tempos played on Scottish Celtic Harmonica. Guest musicians:- Mario Collosimo, Alec Dalglish, Colin Forgrieve, Addie Harper Jnr., Allan Henderson, Malcolm Jones (Runrig), Harvey Leckie, Jamie MacDonald, Neil Macgillivray, Donnie MacKenzie, Andrew McPherson, Charlie McCoy (“the most recorded harmonica player in history”), Ness Melodeons, Lisa Moyes, Martin Pottinger, Màrtainn Skene.

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“Argyll-born harmonica virtuoso Donald Black brings sessions from Nashville to Nova Scotia and from Lewis to the Lothians together on this aptly named instrumental album.” He… “transfers the music of the bagpipes and the swinging Western Highland dance bands to the humble moothie with great feeling and absolute mastery… Bringing in Charlie McCoy, the author and player of The Old Grey Whistle Test theme… Black draws on both peatlands and prairies for inspiration, and the rollicking Canadian-Scottish dance set with Cape Breton pianist Mario Collosimo underlines” his “ability to sound as commanding as the great accordionists of the dance music tradition…
…there are examples of Black’s heartfelt slow air playing, with Runrig’s Malcolm Jones on guitar and Màrtainn Skene on cello wringing out every ounce of atmosphere on MacCrimmon’s Lament and The Edge of the White Rock respectively.” Rob Adams, Herald (Arts), June 2017

“Harmonicas are free reed instruments like concertinas, accordions and many others and Donald treats them as such… To put it mildly, he is a virtuoso and though fans of blues harp and jazz players will point to their heroes, in Donald Black’s hands the harmonica will sit up and beg. Not because of speed, although the second set Pipe Reels could raise blisters, but because of flexibility and feel and an understanding of what the instrument can do…
So Bho m’ Chridhe isn’t a solo album in the strictest sense nor is it an academic performance of tunes. It is varied, beautiful, exciting and a whole load of fun.” Dai Jeffries, Folking.com, 2017

“Scotland’s very own Donald Black plays a true gem of his native soil… Hailing from Benderloch, Argyll, his music roots are decidedly of the West of Scotland Highland Bagpipe and Gaelic tradition.” His “live performances have delighted audiences of Scotland, England, throughout Europe and from Moscow to Kansas City. A tour de force!
On his most recent offering and his fifth album… Donald plays tremolo, octave and ten hole diatonic harmonicas; displaying a repertoire of challenging jigs, hornpipes, marches, waltzes, reels, polkas, a highland schottische, Canadian-Scottish two-step, clog and reels and emotionally charged Celtic Scottish and Irish slow airs…
Altogether, the album has 16 tracks – great value! A true gem of Scotland indeed!
Highly recommended! Every harmonica player should have this CD in their collection as a reference to pure traditional playing on the harmonica.” Cathal Johnson (Harmonica player and repairer, Galway, Ireland), NHL Harmonica World, June/July 2017 edition

“Describing a music style as ‘unique’ immediately sets a pretty high standard. It also places instant demands on any musician. Safe to state that in this case the description is accurate, the standard unsurpassed, coupled with a masterful ability to exceed the demands. Who does this introduction describe? Scottish Celtic Harmonica player Donald Black… reveal that name and everything becomes clear… His latest album, ‘Bho m’ Chridhe’ (From my Heart) weaves a path through hornpipes, reels, waltzes, marches, jigs, slow airs and polkas… the result is soothing, enthralling, invigorating and captivating. From the opening moments… it is clear you are listening to a virtuoso musician displaying total mastery of his chosen instrument… Often relegated to the role of accompaniment, Black raises the harmonica to front and centre… Listen to his delivery of’6/8 Marches’, ‘New Island Waltz’, the atmospheric slow airs ‘Bruach Na Carraige Baine’ or ‘Cumha Mhic Criomain’ and his touch is stunningly obvious.
‘Bho m’ Chridhe eliminates any preconceptions about the harmonica and introduces the embodiment of unique.” Tim Carrol, FolkWords, May 2017

“The album title means “From My Heart” and that’s just how it comes over. Donald Black, doyen of Highland harmonicists, returns and sounds in his element, drawing on Highland pipe repertoire to vivify the heel with crisp 2/4 marches, pipe reels and schottisches, or bringing unabashed sentiment to Gaelic waltzes and slow airs.
He’s in sterling company – regular accompanist Malcolm Jones as well as guest musicians from near and far, including Scottish country dance stalwart Addie Harper Jnr, Highland folk heroes Allan Henderson and Skerryvore’s Alec Dalglish, as well as Mario Collosimo from Cape Breton Island, who provides expansive piano for Mary K’s Waltz, while Nashville’s Charlie McCoy adds second harmonica to Blair Douglas’s country-ish New Island Waltz. The Irish air Bruach na Carraige Báine is truly lovely, while pipe reels collide entertainingly with blues harmonica in Highland Express.” ✪✪✪✪ Jim Gilchrist, The Scotsman, May 2017

“While Donald’s heart is undoubtedly filled with the traditional music of the Highlands, this album is a reminder that he also holds a special place for international music and friendship. It is well worth getting a hold of.” Robert Robertson, Oban Times, April 2017

2013 Dreams & Dances This exciting Creative Scotland / Macmeanmna Recordings project, produced by Allan Henderson, is considerably varied, containing 16 tracks of Celtic moods and tempos, and, as the title implies, ranging from the slow, powerful, poignant pieces through to the ‘up-tempo’.
The material is, typically, mostly Scottish / Highland / Gaelic in essence, ranging from the very traditional through to the newly penned. Two lovely Canadian slow airs are included plus a couple of tunes written by Donald himself.
Donald is joined by two very impressive young Highland musicians on most of the tracks:- Ross Wilson (Keyboard, Double Bass and Accordion) and Allan Nairn (Acoustic and Electric Guitars, Mandolin and Drums). Also guesting on the album are Allan Henderson (Fiddle), Harvey Leckie (Keyboard) and Trish Strain (Cello). [Macmeanmna SKYECD55]

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“The expert harmonica player heaps bagpipe tunes in among the country music, a contemporary Fergie MacDonald lament called Afghanistan, and ‘slow and sad Gaelic airs’. His repertoire here, as the most professional and accomplished of Scottish moothie players – and accompanied by piano, guitar, fiddle and cello – is firmly rooted in Gaelic music and the old Argyllshire traditions, and includes at least half a dozen of these slow and evocative airs. The rest is a mix of waltzes, jigs, marches and reels – the latter three punched out as if by a tight melodeon-led Highland dance band, but with precise breath control, while Black lets his feelings hang out in the Gaelic medley of three slow waltzes.” Norman Chalmers – Scotland on Sunday, February 2013

“Donald Black, the magician of the mouthorgan, is on top form again with this new CD… He’s not given to half measures and this selection will not disappoint… This is a collection for lovers of Highland music to cherish.” Donald MacLeod – Am Bratsch (The News Magazine of the North West), Sutherland, March 2013

“The most clichéd adjective applied to the moothie is ‘humble’ although it is hard to see why: relatively easy to knock a simple tune out from, it needs a lot of skill to play it as a lead instrument. Here Donald shows us playing of an unmatched brilliance, demonstrating the range and variety available from the tremolo and 10-hole diatonic models (…) The combinations available from this instrument allow a great range of richly-layered melodies and harmonies to result in an album which is a delight from start to finish (…) The whole of the album continues to balance sets of differing tempo and timbre, all of which result in a CD which you won’t just play once and then file away – this is one you’ll want to hear over and over”. Gordon Potter – Living Tradition, May 2013

“all beautifully rendered with the help of Ross Wilson, Allan Henderson, Allan Nairn, Harvey Leckie and Trish Strain” Alasdair MacLean, Scots Magazine, June 2013

2008 Keil Road This is a ground-breaking album of slow reflective melodies (apart from an ‘old-timey- Canadian waltz and Donald’s singing of a favourite gaelic song) mostly drawn from the West of Scotland gaelic tradition, played on harmonica.
The dramatic title track ‘Keil Road’ was composed by Donald himself and gets its name from a road in the lovely village of Benderloch, Argyll – a place very close to his heart.
In this venture Donald has also taken the daring and bold step of recording a Pibroch on the harmonica – never ever done before!! The album commences with a powerful and poignant version of that great gaelic classic Do’n Chuthaig (The Cuckoo) and ends with a masterly composition from Malcolm Jones – Fuaran (Cool Water Spring) – helping to give it a somewhat eclectic dimension.
On Keil Road (mostly played in ‘first position’ on 10 hole diatonic harmonica with ‘doctored’ reeds) Donald is joined by the following impressive array of guest artistes, each of whom contributes so hugely to a wonderful diversity of texture and sound: Aly Bain M.B.E., Duncan Chisholm, Alex Dalglish, Fraser Fifield, Allan Henderson, Neil Johnstone, Catriona Laird, Duncan Lyall, Iain MacDonald, Maggie MacInnes, Donnie MacKenzie, Donald Shaw. [Macmeanmna SKYECD44]

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Keil Road “…is a beautiful collection dominated by Black’s controlled but expressive playing.” Norman Chalmers – Scotland on Sunday (Scotland)

“Keil Road is the new splendid album from Donald Black” … “there is much of this disc which touches my heart” … “A nostalgic and inspired CD … that will surely appeal to those passionate about Celtic music and to those who love the melancholic and moving sound of the ten hole [i.e. Diatonic Harmonica]. An unmissable disc for those who want to enjoy listening to magical and dreaming atmospheres.” Fabrizio Poggi – Folk Bulletin (Italy)

Keil Road “could have been a recipe for a rather bland collection in other hands, but Black’s technical facility and expressive interpretations ensure it remains an engaging listen…” Kenny Mathieson – Scotsman

“If you know someone with a taste for traditional gaelic music, played with great feeling and skill, then look no further than Keil Road…” Colin Cameron – Dunoon Observer & Argyllshire Standard

2000 Close to Home A collaboration with Runrig multi-instrumentalist Malcolm Jones. Scottish Celtic music drawn mostly from the West Coast pipe and Gaelic traditions, with a unique combination of instruments including various harmonicas, acoustic & electric stringed and free reed instruments. [Macmeanmna SKYECD15]

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“Close to Home is wonderful, enjoyable and almost magical… Donald Black’s harmonica plays a wonderful melody… And goes straight to the heart. A particular round of applause goes to Malcolm Jones who throughout the album plays… with great ability and gusto. I loved the CD.” Fabrizio Poggi – Folk Bulletin (Italy)

1995 Westwinds Donald’s debut album – his guest musicians are Nan MacIver, Dougie Pincock, Malcolm Jones, Alistair McCulloch, Martin McHugh, Danny Moran and Murdo J. MacLeod. [Greentrax CDTRAX091]

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“‘Westwinds’ is one hell of an album, a belter in fact.” John O’Regan, Irish Broadcaster & Freelance Journalist

Compilation albums with other artistes

2015 Celtic Dreams (Charlie McCoy) Flying Harp Production FHP CB2
2003 The Rough Guide to Scottish Music World Music Network RGNET 1110 CD
2000 Ceòl Tasci Vertical Records Vert CD052
2000 Celtic Collections Vol 3 Greentrax CDGMP 8003
1998 Heart of Scotland MCI 50065
1998 Ecosse/Scotland Air Mail Music (France) SA 141020
1996 The Music & Song of Greentrax Greentrax CDTRAX 8696
© Donald Black 2017.
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