Steve Schuch &
The Night Heron Consort,
The Shores of Lillisand
(North Star, 1999)

If only I could remain on the Shores of Lillisand and bask in its warm light as the water beats upon the rocks, I would be always at peace. "Chanter" leads us to this fair place, an enticing traditional Irish melody with a bit of impulsiveness that conjures the image of the leprechaun. One will imagine the sensations of chasing a wee creature thorough the heather and mist in "The Chase," a lively, original composition by Steven Schuch.

"Planxty R.N.B.," also by Schuch, abounds with rhythm flavoured with a layer of melody from the South African whistle. This unusual piece is the perfect serenade for a jazz Sunday. "Morning Prayer," a tune based upon a poem from Schuch's book Seedstars & Tomato Patches, follows softly in its footsteps. The Night Heron Consort turns to folk in "In Cinq," which features a guitar, French footstomp and a hand drum.

"The Greylings' Farewell," also by Schuch, sings a mournful melody highlighted by Irish whistles, windchimes and djembe, as well as solemn violins and the strum of a guitar. Schuch combines his charismatic violin playing with the guitar to create a whistling breeze in the musical selection "Air." The wind then picks up speed, taking part in a lively "May Dance," which again features the wonderful Irish whistle, but this time with some congas and bones playing beside it. "The Coming of Summer," allows us to envision summer, in its regal glory, as it waltzes onto the scene. The winds shift, the Irish whistle remains constant in the "November Tide," which laps at the shore.

A delightful "Scottish Baroque Fantasy" ensues, a violin solo by Schuch. Impressive! The rest of the consort join back in for "Bourree Medley," a traditional French song. A bouzouki also joins in for the fun on this one. More Middle-Eastern or Baltic than "Down Eastern," Schuch's next selection adds a different ethnic flavour. Very tasty indeed. Finally, we wind back of on the "Shores of Lillisand," that place we visited not so long ago, that place where I want to stay forever. And if I can't, I'll just have to play this CD whenever I need to go there. It's a wonderful place!

All songs are composed by award-winning composer Steve Schuch, except "Chanter," In Cinq," "Bouree Medley" and "Down Eastern."

[ by Lynne Remick ]

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