What is apparent on this set is the jaw-dropping talent on the three musicians, and their ability to mix jazz and folk idioms seamlessly.

Edition: EDN1228

Fergus McCreadie: piano; Dave Bowden: double bass; Stephen Henderson: drums

Recorded by James McMillan at QuietMoney Studios

There is such confidence and joie de vivre in the opening track, ‘Storm’, that the listener is (literally and metaphorically, given the tune’s title) blown away. This four or so minutes of undulating riffs gives way to the longer (12.38 minutes) ‘The Crossing’ with its four sections that take a gentle motif (with its echo of traditional Gaelic lullabies) and threatens to build to an intensity before relaxing, and then skipping into a syncopated improvisation around this motif that almost buries it in the complexities of the patterns that McCreadie plays, before the motif bursts into the playing and then draws the tune to gentler resolution that then battles back to a frenzy before the piece plays the motif in a gentle rain of arpeggios. The ways in which the music builds and then draws back, the ways in which the motif is explored, unpacked and then rebuilt, and the interplay between the players shows a stunning control of the music and playing. I would recommend the album of the basis of this track alone. It encapsulates McCreadie’s desire for the music on this album to ‘evolve from dark to light [in] a sort of cloudy skies to sunnier skies journey’ (although I felt that the journey was a simple, linear path but one that double-backed and introduced more risks before its eventual resolution – much like a well told folk tale).

The debt to folk tunes is paid more fully in ‘Driftwood’, track 3, where the skipping dance of the tune is brought under control by a bass line that compels it to follow a more jazz-like syncopation. This is not to imply that the album’s mood is solely one in which the bustle of folk marries the bustle of jazz. In ‘Mountain stream’, track 6, for example, an elegant chord sequence is played with runs at the end of each phrase that feel like the keening of a Gaelic lament, and ‘Snowcap,’ track 3, has a left hand ostinato over which McCreadie plays a delicately unfurling melody that gives a strong impression of a reel.

What is apparent on this set (as on the previous recordings of the trio) is the jaw-dropping talent on the three musicians, and their ability to mix jazz and folk idioms seamlessly. One is reminded of the ways in which musicians in Scotland’s (almost) neighbours in Scandinavia have used these mixtures of jazz and traditional music – but McCreadie’s ambition feels to lie in defining a uniquely Scottish experience of this. The closing track ‘Lochan Coire Ardair’ is an ode to a small lake (lochan) that backs onto Creag Meagaidh in the Creag Meagaidh National Park which is one of the jewels of Scotland’s highlands.

As he develops the musical language to do this on this and his previous albums, he is certainly creating a unique voice that has the power to force the listener to attend to his musical language and acknowledges its richness.