Featured on Fiona Ritchie's The Thistle & Shamrock, Maggie Sansone is America's premier hammered dulcimer recording artist and player praised by Dirty Linen Folk & World Magazines who said “Sansone performs in that hold-your-breath emotive style that has the listener hanging onto every note, awaiting the next bend in the road - and for sure it will be a delight.. she takes her playing to yet another level of experimentation and sophistication not common in folk music on the hammered dulcimer...with excursions into modal , Arabic, early music chamber ensemble and drum inspired grooves.":
REVIEW Dec 31, 2010: THE WASHINGTON POST: CD: WIND DRIFT: How does Maggie Sansone deliver on Wind Drift:celtic grooves, mystic moods? Swiftly, elegantly, soulfully. Not that the renowned hammered dulcimer player deserves all the credit. Collaborating with several Washington musicians with similar tastes, Sansone sets into motion nimbly woven instrumentals - some ancient, some original, each charming in its own way. The improvised Evening Chai; points to Sansone's interest in Arabic and Persian traditions. But mostly she draws inspiration from Celtic sources, assembling jigs, reels, step dances and ballads that are invigorating and entrancing by turns. Her bandmates - Al Petteway, Robin Bullock, Bobby Read and Matthew Bell - are wonderfully adept at enhancing the melodies and providing the rhythmic accents and propulsion.Beginning with the reel-powered North Sea Crossing, the lean arrangements acquire new textures and momentum, with each chorus adding something vibrant or alluring. Willie's Old Trousers & the Tartan is a vivid example of Sansone's flair for bringing traditional portraits to life. Of the original tunes, Blue Mottetto, a stylistic departure with Italian roots, stands out, thanks partly to its curious construction. Saved for last is another original: Early Dawn, a calm and sparkling coda.- Mike Joyce
From the liner notes:INTRODUCTION:
Maggie Sansone has frolicked in the world of Celtic music for many years, but those of us in her extended family know that it is always with a touch of the warm south. Her Italian heritage gives her a restless energy to explore beyond the Irish airs or Scottish piping tunes (all of which you do hear on this recording), into a Breton Wedding Suite, an Italianate motet, even a work based on Persian modes.
Perhaps the word for this new Maggie project is “spicy.” Like the tea that is imbued with blended spices in India and given that nations word for tea (“chai”), Maggie has taken a proper Irish morning brew and added scents and tinctures from other lands, making an infusion at once heady and restoring. The song “Evening Chai”, with the hammered dulcimer singing as its ancestors had done across the trade routes of the ancient world, from desert to crowded bazaar, from lonely mountain mist to the spice market, is both the heart of this project and a fortune-teller’s guide to the direction Maggie has taken on her ongoing musical journey.When we first saw the cover picture, one that Wallace Jones took as part of his “Irish Rain” project (an American chronicling the magic of the Emerald Isle), Maggie asked him to share how he came upon that spot on that day:The photo was taken at one of my favorite spots in Ireland. Deep in the mountains of Connemara - along the border between counties Mayo and Galway - there is a small lake tucked away in a valley. Lough na Fooey is one of those places that tourists don't ever get to see. It is off the beaten path so much that every sheep and cow stops to look at you with amazement. We discovered the little lake years ago when my parents had come to visit us. We had started down the little road several times before but always stopped short of actually making it to the lough. The road was so small that we just figured that the road would lead to a house…. but we kept driving up the little road... over a steep hill... past sheep in the road...and eventually crested a small hill. It was then that we could see out over the little valley with the lake below. The road snaked down the mountainside... occasionally passing a farm or house... until we came to the little red sand beach. We laid out a blanket... and stretched out in the summer sunshine with our picnic. It was a perfect day. A day that will always be sacred in my memory. I often return to the beach... to remember my parents... and to think of that happy day.
I took this particular photo on a cold March morning.The spring sunshine was struggling to peek over the mountaintops, but there was still warmth in its rays. The birds were singing, but I could still see my breath. The boats sat on the sandy bank... looking as if they had not been touched since the previous summer. Wallace
And so we have it—pushing on down that road where we had only wandered to the first bend so many times before—drifting, like the wind at early dawn (or the breeze that cools our evening cup of chai), we find ourselves at once in a new place...and home again. Robert Aubry Davis
Introduction by Robert Aubry Davis ( Robert Aubry Davis is a television and radio producer in Washington, DC. He hosts Around Town, WETA’s Emmy Award-winning weekly arts program, and can be heard on both classical channels and the folk channel on Sirius XM. He is creator and host of the long-running radio series Millennium of Music.
1. North Sea Crossing (reels) (3:24) When Charles Returns/North Sea Crossing/Hamar Ower Da Taing
This set creates a musical image of a sailor making the crossing from Scotland to the Shetland Islands.I composed North Sea Crossing envisioning that sailor as he approached the treacherous crossroads of the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.
I2. Slippin’ Jigs Set (5:32) The F Sharp Minor/Humours of Whiskey (Trad. Irish)
This set consists of two 9/8 Irish slip jigs with a transition section that we created in the studio. The F Sharp Minor (also known as The Cock and the Hen) starts with a bend I created by pressing on the note with my left thumb while striking the string with the mallet held in my right hand. Humours of Whiskey is a popular Irish slip jig that I have played many times over the years. Humours is an old English word that means “reflections on”.
3. Willie's Old Trousers & The Tartan (4:07) Trad.Scotland/©Maggie Sansone
The set begins with a traditional Scottish reel translated from the Gaelic Seann Triubhais Uilleachain. I added a new section and improvised ending and dubbed it The Tartan. According to Capt. Simon Fraser, editor of the Scottish tune book The Aires and Melodies peculiar o the Highlands of Scotland and the Isles (1874), Willie’s Auld Trews has a long and illustrious history as a protest tune called Song to the Breeches (Oran do 'nbhrioghais), lamenting the Act of Proscription in 1746, that banned the wearing of the kilt and other forms of Highland dress. Tartan is a bold colorful weave, as is the music here. The instruments create a spicy stew of musical sounds, intertwining to create a tartan fabric. This is my musical bow to the tune's history as I picture Willie tossing his trousers aside during the quiet refrain until, at last, the Tartan is returned to Willie!
4. Lilting Banshee Set (jigs) (7:19) Gow’s Lament for His Brother/Gallowglass/Boys of Ballinamore/Lilting Banshee (Trad.Scotland/Trad.Ireland)
Nathaniel Gow (Scottish musician and publisher;1763-1831) wrote lament, followed by a rhythmic intro that leads to the Irish version of the same tune called Gallowglass; it is followed by the popular Irish jigs The Boys of Ballinamore and the Lilting Banshee.
5. Evening Chai (3:10) ©Maggie Sansone
Chai is one my favorite spicy teas from India. The title symbolizes the universality of music and how it offers a positive link that bridges the gap between different cultures. This is an improvisation based on my own studies and explorations into Arabic and Persian music for the hammered dulcimer.
6. Breton Suite (medley) (7:54) Breton Gavotte/ Bourrée/ Bourrée d'Aurore Sand/ French Musette (Trad. Breton).
This Suite consists of four tunes from the Celtic region of France. Picture a festive gathering, a celebration or perhaps a wedding starting with the lovely Breton Gavotte, followed by a guitar duet Bourrée, then a lively dance tune Bourrée d'Aurore Sand, which refers to the 19th century author George Sand. She was a colorful character, ahead of the time and known for her relationship with the pianist/composer Frederick Chopin. The last tune French Musette is a waltz I learned from button accordionist Peter Brice.
7. Blue Mottetto (3:24) ©Maggie Sansone
The first and last sections were inspired by a 12th century motet I played on the classical guitar, and the middle section is fast and rhythmic where the melodies are influenced by non-western scales and rhythmic patterns. This piece also exploits the hammered dulcimer's unique string layout that requires “jumping” the bridges to achieve certain notes. Mottetto, Italian for “motet”, is a tribute to my father, Leonard Sansone, who was Italian, played great jazz piano and was a major musical influence in my life. I added some extra spicy sauce and called it Blue…so, stir often and get Blue Mottetto—a “new dish”.
8. Wind Drift (3:37) ©Maggie Sansone
The title track of this recording. I wrote the tune during the easy-flowing days of summer to celebrate a carefree mood as our boat drifted across the wide open spaces of the Chesapeake Bay. Wind drift suggests the rise and fall of a boat on the waves as it heads toward shore. It’s also a tribute to the ancient Celtic summer festival of Lughnasa (loo-nah-sa) that marks the longest day of the year. Later, in the studio, the musicians all added to their creative contributions to the piece.
9. Early Dawn (2:55) © Maggie Sansone
Like the early dawn, this composition begins slowly with a prelude of ethereal chords to set the mood; then, using the compositional device called a canon, it unfolds as if the sun were rising with the main melody first as an introduction, then repeated by each instrument like an echo. It resolves at the end with a slow refrain.
Musicians: Maggie Sansone: Hammered dulcimer, classical guitar on tr. 6-Bourrée, 9); Al Petteway: guitar
Robin Bullock: cittern, mandolin; Bobby Read: woodwinds, accordion, keyboards; Matthew Bell: bodhran, djembe (tr.6,7), cajon box drum (tr.5).Produced, recorded and mastered by Bobby Read at Small World Audio, Afton VA (USA).
Hammered dulcimer arrangements by Maggie Sansone; ensemble arrangements co-arranged by Maggie Sansone & Bobby Read. Maggie Sansone Publishing (ASCAP); Liner notes: Robert Aubry Davis Photos: Cover Photo: Wallace Jones - www.irishrainphotography.com.; Maggie Sansone photo: Viki Garte; Maggie & Toby photo and CD booklet: Maggie’s Music.
Maggie’s instrument: Forte, chromatic hammered dulcimer with pedal dampers by Nick Blanton, Shepherdstown, West Virginia, USA.I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with Bobby Read again and thank him for his arrangements, amazing virtuosity and creative input. He inspires me to be a better musician. Also, a big thanks to the musicians, Robert Aubry Davis, Connie McKenna, Betsy Chalfin, family and friends, my husband Richard Crenshaw and my mom Emily Sokoloff. For more information, bios, recordings, bookings, tour schedule or sheet music, contact:
MAGGIE’S MUSIC, PO BOX 490, SHADY SIDE, MD 20764, (410)867-0642, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.maggiesmusic.com
About Maggie Sansone:
One of America’s premier hammered dulcimer players and recording artists, Maggie has been featured on CBS-TV Sunday Morning, and NPR’s All Things Considered, Performance Today and The Thistle & Shamrock. Her recordings, concerts, and collaborations with Ballet Theatre of Maryland, Teelin School of Irish Dance, Sony/BMG, Time-Life Records, XM Radio and Ken Burns' PBS documentaries and her US tour with a Scottish Christmas featuring Bonnie Rideout, have drawn wide praise. Among many awards, Maggie received Wammies (Washington Area Music Association) for Celtic/Irish Instrumentalist and Outstanding Record Label. Maggie is founder and CEO of Maggie's Music record label with over 50 recordings and 12 recording artists, with sales topping 1 million. A native of Miami, Florida, Maggie began her music career at age 8. She is a multi-instrumentalist and plays, in addition to hammered dulcimer, piano, guitar, recorder, percussion, bassoon, banjo, Scottish smallpipes and Irish Bodhran. She received her BFA in Fine Arts from Kent State University, Ohio, and settled in Maryland in 1973. Maggie's first music studio was in the basement of a Baltimore row house. Sansone's CDs are: A Celtic Fair, Mystic Dance, A Traveler’s Dream, Celtic Meditations, Dance upon the Shore, Mist & Stone, Traditions, Sounds of the Season, Sounds of the Season II, Merrily Greet the Time (with Sue Richards), A Scottish Christmas (with Bonnie Rideout, Al Petteway) and Ancient Noels (with Ensemble Galilei).