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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Ken Hyder's Talisker Dreaming Of Glenisla

Going back to his roots

Dreaming of Glenisla
Ken Hyder’s Talisker
Reel Recordings

With most jazzers of his generation using a mode of expression that was essentially American in nature, drummer Ken Hyder dug deep into his Scottish culture for inspiration and a change of direction. When it was released on Virgin’s Caroline label in 1975, the results didn’t sit well with many critics of the day. This might be down to the irreverent air created by the use of diddlin’ songs - a traditional form of Celtic scat singing - and Hyder’s tendency to adopt an unsettling dada-esque vocalese with a pronounced Scots twang.

Yet the original album is replete with gorgeous moments of languid serenity – the reverie of Davie Webster’s alto or the silky lines from John Rangecroft’s clarinet and tenor on the title track and the mournful “Lament For Mal Dean” overflow with warmth and passion.

The linkage between intertwining Celtic melodies and the fast-moving post-bop/ Ayler lines isn’t too much of a stretch. Elegiac jazz one moment, free-form jigs and reels the next, in bolting together two different traditions in such an unfettered manner, Hyder may have confused audiences of the day but created an album which still sounds startling and different.

We live in an age that nowadays thinks nothing of cross-cultural collaborations, but Ken Hyder got there before everyone else – only the culture he was exploring was not deemed hip enough for the jazz scene and not folky enough for those on the other side of the fence.

The original album comes with a bonus session from 1976 material impressive session from a year. Once again on a mix of original and traditional tunes, Rangecroft’s clarinet stands out as something ineffably sad but strangely uplifting.


Mackenzie said...

Hi Sid,

I appreciate your review of the re-release of the first Talisker album.

You're spot-on describing how it confused both folkies and jazzers when it first came out, and indeed it has received much more understanding reviews more than 30 years later.

I'm still innovating and it may take another 30 years for some people to catch up with what I'm doing now.

All the best,

Ken Hyder

Sid Smith said...

Hi there Ken,
many thanks for taking the time and trouble of getting in touch. I bought the album when it came out and recall the mixed reviews it receives.

I hadn't heard for a very long time (well over 20 years) and so when I received this review copy I was pleased at just how fresh the record sound.

I'll be checking out your other work. Great to hear that others are catching up on your work as well.

Best wishes


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