Music Review: Ileach – The Independent Newspaper for Islay and Jura
In 2001, concertina player, Simon Thoumire and pianist, Dave Mil- ligan released their first album to- gether, entitled ‘The Big Day’, a title that reflected the music having been recorded in a single day, due to the sudden availability of a recording studio.
‘Portraits’, however, took considerably longer, despite not having been conceived as an album in the first place. As was the case for many musicians, the pandemic forced the opportunity to create new music un- interrupted by gigs or touring. Such was the case for Simon Thoumire.
And with no real opportunities to collaborate in person, ‘Portraits’ consists of music sent to and fro between himself and Dave Milligan, each track representing a different person in Thoumire’s life.
The results can be heard across the album’s eleven impressive tracks.
Simon Thoumire was once an integral part of John Rae’s Celtic Feet, a band that were stalwarts of those early Islay Jazz festivals. His concer- tina playing is every bit as identifable today as it was over quarter of a century past.
Dave Milligan has appeared at several Islay Festivals and whose own album, ‘Momento’ was reviewed in these pages a few years past.
The collaboration between the two musicians is, to confine it to a single word, ‘seamless’. Thoumire’s more folk-oriented approach is matched, note for note, by Milligan’s jazzier feel. If nothing else, this particular album underlines that the Scottish folk/jazz experiments from John Rae, Colin Steele, Fergus McCreadie and more recently, Fraser Fifield, have a value that highlights them as more than just a passing fad or notion.
The opening track, ‘Come on, let us sway together’ was written as a Valentine’s Day present for Simon’s wife and sways as the very waltz you might hear at a village hall ceilidh.
‘Anastasia McAroe’s Waltz’, howev- er is a smidgeon more emphatic in its 3/4 swing. And, as a nostalgic reminder of Thoumire’s time with Celtic Feet, ‘King Bill’s Hornpipe’, though a con- temporary composition, brings back memories of ‘Beware the Feet’.
While not wishing to descend into clichéd ‘toe-tapping’ references, I dare anyone to listen to the en- tire album, while keeping both feet firmly planted on the floor, partic- ularly during ‘Louis DeCarlo’s 70th Birthday Strathspey’, (where Dave Milligan’s piano-playing provides one of the album’s finest moments), or ‘Misha’, a track dedicated to the Ukrainian pianist, the late Misha Alpern.
A joyous album.
Find out more https://simonthoumire.ffm.to/portraits