The fourth and final release in the Quarterdays series sees Scottish fiddle player / composer Gavin Marwick team up with Firelight Trio compadre Phil Alexander on accordion and piano. They have been playing socially together for years as well as professionally in the Yiddish Song Project and Gav’s Journeyman big band.
Martinmas celebrates the life of St Martin of Tours, the only actual historical figure to appear in the Quarterdays canon. Born in what is now part of Hungary, serving in the Roman army and ending up as Bishop of Tours and ultimately one of the patron saints of France, Martin offers a very broad European vision of the spread of the early church across the continent during this long ago fourth century period.
His feast day is November 11th (also WW1 Armistice Day) and overlaps with echoes of Samhain. Mortality and death are never far away. Agriculturally it is the traditional time for the slaughter of beasts – proverbially hogs, also cattle and geese – also for the pickling and preserving of foodstuffs and general preparation to carry life through the leaner, darker times of winter. It is a liminal time, when the veil between this life and the next is very thin.
Gavin’s tunes mix Scottish with Eastern European, French and contemporary, stylistically freer ideas. He references the Lantern festivals of Europe and the ancient balladry of The Wife of Usher’s Well. There is much of the weather and the dying year, the first two sets creating a rich bleakness interwoven with the power of joy and life. Gavin’s tunes are brought fully alive with Phil’s endlessly inventive and sparkling musicianship. Every Hog (shall have his Martinmas) has a fine porcine swagger, The Vintners swings delightfully (Martin is the patron saint of winemakers) and the last track, Darkness Falls/ Spirit Animal, offers a comforting oblivion and final farewell.
“Superbly expressive fiddler” – Songlines
“First quarter excellent and highly recommended, can’t wait for the others” – Marc Higgins, Fatea, on Candlemas
“Really impressive… 12 entrancing new tunes, superbly written in the traditional style” – FolkWales on Whitsun
“The playing is slow and considered, more minimalism than folk and you can lose yourself in every shimmering note. Simply delightful instrumental music with moments to be lost in or moments to be swept away in..” – timepastandtimepassing on Lammas