Bradley's Bagpipe Christmas
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.