by Jack Bonaparte
It’s long overdue, but Carl MacKenzie finally has a CD. Don’t get me wrong, he has eight recordings to his credit, but Cape Breton Fiddle Medleys takes him into the age of compact disc. Carl did not even own a CD player until the recording was pressed. Sounding great, eh Carl?
As the name would suggest, the disc is a compilation of tunes by some of the greatest island composers including Dan R. MacDonald, Jerry Holland (does anybody record a fiddle record without a Jerry Holland composition?), D.A. Beaton, Pat Chafe, Hector MacKenzie and of course, Carl himself. He also does a great job on tunes by Scottish composers Neil Gow, William Marshall, and J.S. Skinner.
The CD was recorded live at the Washabuck community Centre which gives the listener a true Cape Breton feel. Carl is superb on the fiddle, but he also gets some terrific support from the multi-talented J.P. Cormier who plays acoustic guitar and Pat Chafe, who composed a few tunes on the album, also backs up Carl on piano. Pat, by the way, will be releasing a book of her tunes in the near future.
The “Clay Pipe Jig Medley” is very popular with listeners of Wake Up To Cape Breton, but my personal favourite is one of Carl’s own compositions – a slow air titled “Jacqueline” which was composed for Dr. Jacqueline Scott on her installation as president of UCCB. Carl also plays some great Irish tunes he learned from old friend and brilliant fiddler Robert Stubbert (Brenda’s dad) of Point Aconi. Now if we can only get Robert into the studio.
Carl has always been a favourite with the traditional crowd, but the new recording should also open up some doors with fiddle fans of the CD age.