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Bradley's Bagpipe Christmas
John Bradley
Reviewed in 2002

What can you say about John Bradley's piping? That it is unique? Haunting? Sad? Sure, but I'm betting that's all been said o'er and o'er. The bagpipe is, on its own, a wonderful and terrible thing, evocative and visceral. Harmonically limited (with only that one lonely key) it makes up for its lack with conviction and noblesse oblige.

Bradley's Bagpipe Christmas does not shy from the stark beauty of unaccompanied piping, but neither does it eschew the judicious use of string accompaniment (Cady Finlayson, violin, and Kevin Allen, guitar). After a misty and mystical roll call--O Holy Night, Drummer Boy, O Come All Ye Faithful, The First Noel, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Good King Wenceslas--he sweetens things a bit with guitar and percussion, ultimately giving way to Finlayson's bagpipe-inspired violin on Silent Night before piping a verse of, fittingly, God Bless America.

He is clearly a master of his instrument, and a grand instrument it is. This music is not for everyone, but it is a strange and wondrous record to hear, if you fit the profile.


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