‘Wide Open’ from Ross Ainslie, fusing styles and shapes without fear or constraint(January 29, 2014)
On his latest album, Ross Ainslie delivers a diverse mix of influence, inspiration and impression that defines much of the man’s skill and talent. Through its nine tracks, ‘Wide Open’ leads the listener across a miscellany of musical styles expounding a consummate skill with pipes, whistles, cittern and mandolin. The music ranges with a freedom and openness combined with a lightness of touch that fuses styles and shapes without fear or constraint. There’s never a moment when the synthesis sounds forced as with each successive track the blend is faultless and ultimately enthralling.
The magic begins with ‘Rum’ as it twists and turns through its convolutions, and continues with the energetic pipes of‘Problem’ and the Breton-influenced enthusiasm seeping through every note of 'Clans'. There’s a lively jazz-tinged presence to the sparkling ‘Again’, by contrast the collection of ‘Wedding Waltzes’ assumes a soothing mellowness, while‘True’ emphasised by superb tabla, radiates compelling levels of high-spirited presence. Deserving of particular mention, the closing 'To The Woods Suite' takes the mixture of instruments, style and inspiration further into a multi-layered, imaginative arrangement that never remains static but continually swerves and curves through countless expressions.
The musicians playing alongside Ross Ainslie (Highland pipes, whistles, cittern, mandolin) on ‘Wide Open’ are: Ali Hutton (acoustic and electric guitar, bodhran) Duncan Lyall (double and electric bass) Angus Lyon (keyboard) James Mackintosh (drums) Innes Watson (fiddle) John Somerville (accordion) and Gyan Singh (tabla).
Ross dedicates ‘Wide Open’ to his good friend and teacher, the late Gordon Duncan. That pledge creates a worthy tribute through a milestone performance of creative composition. You can find Ross Ainslie here: www.rossainslie.com
Reviewer: Tim Carroll