Market Square MSMCD172, Released: February 19 2016
Sunset Cavaliers is a lovingly crafted homage to the music and sound-worlds of the 1960s and early 70s – British jazz, British folk, British rock, New York fusion, Irish trad – which music historian Colin Harper has chronicled in five books and numerous liner notes over the last 15 years.
Three of those books were written during 2012-15: Bathed in Lightning: John McLaughlin, the 60s and the Emerald Beyond (Jawbone, 2014); The Wheels of the World: 300 Years of Irish Uilleann Pipers (Jawbone, 2015); Eyes Wide Open: True Tales of a Wishbone Ash Warrior (Jawbone, 2015).
During that time, and informed by those projects, Harper also created the bulk of Sunset Cavaliers. The album was completed using some hitherto unreleased or limited-release collaborations that melded with the album’s theme of a cultural age in its autumn.
Guests on the album include Mahavishnu Orchestra (1974-75) alumni Steve Kindler (violin) and Premik Tubbs (sax); Wishbone Ash mainstay Andy Powell (guitar); Chris Spedding (guitar); Bert Jansch (guitar); Brooks Williams (guitar); ex-Bondi Cigars Aussie bluesman Shane Pacey (guitar); Linley Hamilton (flugelhorn); John McSherry (uilleann pipes); Duffy Power (vocals/harmonica); ex-Mellow Candle Alison O’Donnell (vocals); and Cornish/American troubadour Sarah McQuaid (vocals).
The album is dedicated to British blues legend Duffy Power (1941-2014) and includes specific tracks in homage to fusion pioneer Mahavishnu John McLaughlin (b.1942), acoustic icon Bert Jansch (1943-2011), Australian rocker Billy Thorpe (1946-2007), and Irish piper and lore-master Séamus Ennis (1919-82).
Harper has previously created three albums as a ‘hobby musician’, but Sunset Cavaliers is the first for which he has sought a national release. His 2010 all-instrumental album Titanium Flag (an instrumental concept work on Arctic exploration, originally limited to a run of 100 copies) will be re-released nationally with additional tracks later in 2016, on the basis on continued airplay and interest.
Colin: ‘Being a member of IMRO [Irish PRS], I’ve been able to see the ongoing level of interest in my music over the past few years, through royalty statements, and it’s been both surprising and humbling. I’m not very prolific but when the muse has flowed I’ve had the privilege of being able to call on some wonderful musicians, often met through writing about music or helping with reissues. I’ve tended to slip things out rather sheepishly before now, but I can no longer think of a good reason why this should be the case!’
Sunset Cavaliers was produced by IFTA (Irish Film & Television Academy) award-winning sound engineer and multi-instrumentalist Cormac O’Kane at Red Box Studios, Belfast. The core band comprises Harper, O’Kane and Ali MacKenzie (bass, The Mighty Mojos) with Lee Hedley (harmonica, The Mighty Mojos) and Louise ‘Cardiff Lou’ Potter (drums, Wookalily).
Sunset Cavaliers: Press Quotes
‘The author of several well-known music biographies has compiled a fine collection of tracks in his spare time… The tone remains laid-back but this just allows the music to wash over the listener all the more effectively.’
**** Trevor Raggatt, R2
‘Immaculately crafted Celtic jazz fare for the late evening. Musicologist Harper… creates something that is, at once, both thought provoking yes relaxing. Aided by a stellar line-up of musicians… this essentially instrumental album boasts its share of memorable moments including a title track that spotlights Linley Hamilton’s gorgeous flugelhorn playing…’
*** Fred Dellar, Mojo
‘There’s always been a notion in music that those who can, do. And those who can’t, write about it. Colin Harper, one of our most authoritative voices in music journalism, thankfully disproves this, with an eclectic and engaging ensemble recording…’
*** Ian Abrahams, Record Collector
‘A loving, mostly instrumental homage to his favourite music from the 1960s and ‘70s, spanning folk, jazz, rock, blues and Celtic music. Listening to his guitar duet with Jansch on ‘Blues For A Green Earth’, he really can play, too.’
6/10 Nigel Williamson, Uncut
‘Harper pays homage to some of his heroes… with an unhurried collection of blues, folk and jazz tunes with a frequent Celtic tinge… It’s a thoughtful and affectionate album, with few moments of extreme drama or surprise; instead, it relies on rich layers and evocative instrumentation… Much like an expensive pair of slippers, Harper’s offering is warm, comfortable and reassuringly well made.’