Sue Richards, harp; Robin Bullock, multi-instrumentalist. Dancing Wolf Records, 2019.
Sue Richards dutifully followed the traditional path, studying pedal harp in college. But in every life, there’s that moment that changes things forever. For her, that moment was when someone placed a Celtic harp in her hands. The pedal harp was soon abandoned for a full-fledged career as a traditional instrumentalist, including winning first prize at the American National Scottish Harp Championship four times.
Her latest project, Highland Ramble, is a joyous mix of Scottish, Irish, and Swedish traditions from the perspective of the Carolina mountains. Her deft partner is multi-instrumentalist and INDIE winner, Robin Bullock. The two play as one, embodying in like-mind the spirit of the people who created this music and passed it down for generations, people bonded to their homeland and filled with faith amongst life’s mixed blessings. The blind harpist Carolan never disappoints, as do the festively flavored mash-up of Irish jigs. Standouts include an unusual waltz taught to Bullock by a French trapeze artist and a set of polskas from Sweden in unequal rhythms and in a minor key, oddly to celebrate marriage, though perhaps spot on in predicting what’s to come!
Tristan Le Govic Trio: Tristan Le Govic, harp; Tangi Le Hènanff, bass; and Alan Quéré-Moysan, drums. Self-released, 2019.
Taking the Celtic to a whole new level, French electro and traditional harpist Tristan le Govic partners with bassist Tangi Le Hènanff and drummer Alan Quéré-Moysan in a unique fusion of traditional Breton dance with a funky in-the-moment modern flair. Dañs is loose-jointed, relaxed in its jazzy pulse, leaving you wondering where you have landed exactly. And that seems to be the point. Favorites include J’ai dix sous dans ma pouche, a call and response that invites even us parle un peu le Francais to join in on the verse, and Inte sörjer jag the trio joined by the talented traditional flutist Markus Tullber, his buzzy, breathiness capturing the zeitgeist perfectly of old wine in new bottles. The title track dares us to sit still with wit and grit, while Intañvezed Pluniav is all the classic joie-de-vivre expected from this very talented harpist/composer, Tristan le Govic. •