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Elizabeth Nicholson And Stringed Migration | Fly Not Yet

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World: Celtic Folk: String Band Moods: Type: Acoustic
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Fly Not Yet

by Elizabeth Nicholson And Stringed Migration

Celtic and international roots music with a twist of jazz.
Genre: World: Celtic
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Lebanese Melody - the Unquiet Grave
4:53 $0.99
2. Paddy Fahey's - Cape Breton Reel
4:23 $0.99
3. Fly Not Yet
4:43 $0.99
4. La Rotta - Waltz From Orsa
5:29 $0.99
5. Paddy's Rambles - Funky Reel
6:15 $0.99
6. Lord Thomas
5:50 $0.99
7. St John's Jig - the Barn Swallow - Mt Tabor Reel
4:40 $0.99
8. The Dewey Dens of Yarrow
4:59 $0.99
9. Romanian Hora - Galway Bay
5:17 $0.99
10. Am I Born to Die
4:17 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
"I knew 'Fly Not Yet' would be great, but it's better than great. It's one of the most seriously creative and natural sounding uses of differing ethnic traditions that I have ever heard. There's deep serious, stuff going on here - judging by the credentials of your players, I'm not surprised."

- Peter Clark, Calgary Music producer and former Seanachie guitarist

"The arrival of the new ensemble Elizabeth Nicholson & Stringed Migration is one of serious import. This flock of global music "superstars" draw from their various accomplishments in world genres to create a debut CD that is fresh, vibrant and brimming with unexpected delights.

- Lisa Lepine, Bite of Oregon booker

The Band:
Elizabeth Nicholson & Stringed Migration is a Portland, OR-based acoustic quintet that performs a lush synthesis of Celtic and international roots music with a twist of jazz. Comprised of five multi-instrumentalists whose individual careers have garnered regional, national, and international recognition, the band is enjoying a rapidly growing reputation in the Northwest folk world. With the recent release of their debut CD "Fly Not Yet" (which opened at number eleven on the international folk radio charts), they have assumed a place on the world’s folk music stage.

Stringed Migration features a cast whose diverse backgrounds touch upon Latin music, Balkan music, Americana, rock, Mediæval music, classical Indian music, Western classical music, and jazz, yet all have deep roots in traditional Irish and Scottish fare. “The idea,” says founder Elizabeth Nicholson, “is to allow everyone in the band to draw from the full spectrum of their experience, rather than conforming to a rigidly defined idiom.” The resulting sound pays true homage to the American melting pot, revealing technical mastery, nuance, spontaneity and heart.

Stringed Migration is: Elizabeth Nicholson on vocals, harps, and guitar; Eddie Parente on violin and viola; Bob Soper on percussion, fiddle, vocals and guitar; Rob Barrick on double bass and Scottish smallpipes; and Jim Chapman on Irish and Greek bouzoukis and Irish whistles.

The Recording:
On Fly Not Yet, the band crafts arrangements that seamlessly blend cultural influences to stunning effect:“Unquiet Grave” -- the album’s opening track – merges a traditional Scottish ballad with a Lebanese dance tune, highlighting the complementary harmonic structure of each melody and giving the song’s dark story an added layer of depth. In the second track, a reel from Cape Breton is uplifted by a merengue backbeat and treated with a dazzling jazz improvisation, courtesy of violinist Eddie Parente. The third, title track, reveals an elegantly straightforward treatment of an Irish song, centered around Elizabeth Nicholson’s lithe vocals. Subsequent tracks showcase the band’s range, from the driving medieval dance “La Rotta,” to Bob Soper’s plaintive singing on the Appalachian ballad “Lord Thomas,” to a whimsical treatment of the Irish hornpipe “Galway Bay,” which sets a harp solo to a rock rhythm. The final track on the album is also the darkest: “And Am I Born to Die?” places an American shape-note song within a mournful, chamber-inflected string arrangement.

Member Bios:
Singer/harpist ELIZABETH NICHOLSON is at the vanguard of a new generation of Celtic musicians. Considered among the top American interpreters of Irish traditional music for harp, her studies have also included classical, Paraguayan, and mediaeval harp, and she has stretched the traditional boundaries of the instrument into rock music and country blues. Her recent CD of traditional and original music, Sink or Swim (Waterbug Records) was released to widespread critical praise and international airplay, including a spot on Fiona Richie’s Thistlepod, which highlights outstanding new Celtic releases.

Violinist/violist EDDIE PARENTE first came to prominence as a member of the critically acclaimed Irish ensemble Touchstone (Green Linnet Records), and with subsequent performances with members of the renowned Celtic supergroups The Bothy Band and Silly Wizard. Eddie has since proved himself to be a master of multiple genres, performing in bands that range in style from Americana (The Oregon Trail Band), to Tango, mariachi, Indian, classical, and more. However, he is perhaps best known for his immense prowess in the realm of jazz, and has filled concert halls throughout the world touring under his own name as a jazz soloist.

BOB SOPER is counted among Portland’s most astonishingly versatile multi-instrumentalists. A rock and jazz drummer from a young age who also studied classical Indian percussion at the Ali Akbar College of Music, he went on to learn the Irish fiddle, ultimately becoming one the Northwest’s most sought after players. Also an accomplished guitarist and vocalist in both Irish and American traditional styles, he’s been a member of some of the region’s most beloved and successful ensembles, including the Irish bands Cul an Ti and Grafton Street, as well as the old-time/country-blues group The Pagan Jug Band.

Born into a Scottish piping family, ROB BARRICK grew up playing with the City of Victoria Pipe Band, one of the world’s top-rated bagpipe ensembles. Today Rob is recognized as among the West Coast’s premier Scottish pipers, and is in high demand as an adjudicator for piping competitions throughout the US and Canada. Also a veteran bass player, Rob has toured extensively with renowned Irish singer-songwriter Peter Yeates and his band New Shilling, performing at most of the nation’s larger Celtic festivals and appearing with some of the genre’s top players, including Kevin Burke and Johnny Cunningham.

Bouzouki and Irish whistle player JIM CHAPMAN has been an active member of the Northwest’s Celtic music community for over twenty years, having played with the celebrated ensemble Wild Geese, as well with luminaries of Irish traditional music such as Martin Hayes, Kevin Burke, Randal Bays, and Johnny B. Connolly. In addition to Irish music, Jim has studied classical piano, composition, and Balkan bouzouki, and has appeared twice on whistles as a soloist with the Salem Symphony Orchestra playing work by master harp-guitarist John Doan.


Reviews of "Fly Not Yet":

Based in Portland, Oregon, Elizabeth Nicholson & Stringed Migration are an acoustic band with a repertoire of mostly Irish and Scottish traditional material. Though (so I judge from photographs) a young woman, Nicholson is already a formidably skilled harpist and a striking vocalist besides. She's surrounded herself with four comparably gifted musicians (fiddle, guitars, pipes, percussion, bass) with experience in a range of genres, including rock, jazz, classical, Appalachian and Middle Eastern.

Celtic sounds, however, are very much at the forefront, with others incorporated with charming, unforced ease. Though the playing and the arrangements are sophisticated and modern, they don't feel that way, which I mean as flattery. The consistent excellence notwithstanding, nothing showy is happening here, and the band seems at once to be floating outside time while yet rooted firmly in place. As the best bluegrass bands do, the finest Celtic ensembles -- happily for all of us who love the music -- never run short of creative approaches to what are in prosaic truth a finite store of ideas. Of course, the longer this goes on, the higher the level of technical excellence and musical imagination required. That's not a problem here; in Fly Not Yet, Nicholson and company achieve the desired, if in lesser hands elusive, feat of feeling both familiar and fresh.

The line-up consists of instrumentals and songs in approximately equal measure. The latter comprise, with a couple of exceptions, classic Scots ballads from the Child canon: "The Unquiet Grave," "Lord Thomas" and "The Dewey Dens of Yarrow," performed with the sort of resonance that separates masters from neophytes. Ballad singing, like blues singing, is a whole lot more demanding than it looks. My personal favorite vocal cut, however, is the title piece, with lyrics by the 19th-century Irish poet Thomas Moore set to an air ("Planxty Hugh Kelly") associated with 17th-century Irish harper Turlough O'Carolan.

Among the instrumentals, the traditional Italian harp piece "La Rotta" and an old Swedish fiddle tune identified simply as "Waltz from Orsa" join in exquisite medley. A Lebanese melody shows up as an intro to "Unquiet Grave," and the klezmer "Romanian Hora" shares medley duty with "Galway Bay" (not to be confused with the song of the same name). Fly Not Yet, let us hope, is just Stringed Migration's first flight.

-Jerome Clark, rambles.net, March 2008


It's a lovely recording, with some exotic material (Balkan melodies and tabla drumming) setting off the Celtic jigs and reels, in alteration with incredible lead and harmony singing. The male lead vocalist (Bob Soper?) reminds me of the lead singer in Northampton Harmony, but Elizabeth Nicholson has a voice like nothing else I've heard recently. You owe it to yourself to get hold of this CD and listen closely, beginning to end, and then once more

-John McLaughlin, Host, "Roots & Wings", WMUC-FM, UMD in
College Park MD


Just a couple of years ago, Portland (Oregon)-based Celtic harp specialist and singer Elizabeth gave us a lovely CD Sink Or Swim, on which she presented a persuasive collection interspersing her own takes on traditional balladry with some tunes from (or inspired by) the Celtic tradition. On just over half of that CD she was accompanied variously by the four musicians who have now come together to form the group Stringed Migration: Bob Soper (percussion, occasional fiddle and guitar), Jim Chapman (whistles, bouzouki), Eddie Parente (violin, viola and violectra) and Rob Barrick (bass - although, confusingly, Tim Renner takes bass duties instead on the majority of tracks on this, SM's debut CD). There's inevitably a little more of a bias towards tune repertoire here than on Elizabeth's solo record, with five of the ten tracks on Fly Not Yet being purely instrumental. The mix of musics is invigorating, bringing to the traditional sources via the musicians' varying backgrounds a melting-pot of more worldly influences: several Irish tunes are given a special kind of lift from elements such as spirited fiddling and harp playing and the use of djembe (not bodhrán) as rhythm-driver. There's also a Cape Breton reel, a Roumanian klezmer hora and a Lebanese melody (which is ingeniously linked to a fine rendition of The Unquiet Grave), while a linked trio of Eddie's own compositions proves particularly nifty. The songs are strong too: Elizabeth's singing is more purposeful and displaying a keener sense of the drama than hitherto, and there seems greater dynamic contrast within her voice. Bob adds his vocal skills to two of the songs: Lord Thomas becomes a duet with Elizabeth, while on the atmospheric shape-note closer And Am I Born To Die he sounds uncannily like Tim Eriksen I thought; those two selections are definite high spots of the record. Another specially interesting choice is the title track, where Thomas Moore's words are set to a planxty by O'Carolan. With not a weak track among the ten, this is a highly listenable and most intelligent disc, with excellent (and refreshingly unostentatious) musicianship throughout.

-David Kidman, March 2008, NetRhythms.co.uk


(THUMBS UP!) Fly Not Yet imaginatively mixes material from Scotland, Ireland, North America, Lebanon, mediaeval Italy, Sweden, and Romania. Elegant, crystalline performances on vocals, harps, violin, viola, acoustic bass, bouzouki, guitar, and whistle. Merging The Unquiet Grave with a Lebanese melody is pure genius!

-FolkRoots magazine, UK


Based in Portland, Oregon, Stringed Migration is Elizabeth Nicholson on vocals, harps and guitar; Eddie Parente on violin and viola; Bob Soper on percussion, fiddle, vocals and guitar; Rob Barrick on double bass and Scottish smallpipes, and Jim Chapman on Irish and Greek bouzoukis and Irish whistles.
There are all accomplished and experienced musicians in their own right and between them they cover a gamut of world music styles. They freely blend Celtic, Latin, Balkan, Americana, Mediaeval, Western and Indian classical music and jazz.
The arrangements are imaginative, the instrumentation varied and the vocals (supplied by Nicholson and Soper) are excellent. They move smoothly from instrumental pieces to songs and back again. This recording demands serious listening and will grow on you with every play.

-Tim Readman
Penguin Eggs folk music magazine,
Edmonton, Alberta CANADA


Portland, Oregon, has long been a hot bed for creative Celtic music. The latest to crawl out from under the covers is Elizabeth Nicholson and Stringed Migration. As the name suggests, there are lots of sizzling acoustic instruments: fiddles, harp, viola, guitar, bouzouki and double bass, with occasional forays into violectra, whistles and electric bass. The fact that Nicholson plays harp, sings in a high soprano, and flavors Celtic music with world seasonings invites comparisons to Loreena McKennitt, but Nicholson's repertoire is even broader. Expect everything except the usual assortment of jigs and reels; Stringed Migration like to do things such as pair "The Unquiet Grave" with a Lebanese medley, an Irish hornpipe with a Romanian hora, or a 14th Century Italian tune with a Swedish waltz whose melody is so full of sixteenth notes that it ricochets more than sashays. Solid vocal work completes a wonderful album and, true to form, Stringed Migration rounds their magical ten-track release not with a bothy ballad, but an American shape-note hymn.

-Rob Weir, Sing Out! magazine


Elizabeth Nicholson and Stringed Migration are a quintet made up of some of the most well-balanced and talented musicians hailing from Portland, Oregon. They are multi-instrumentalists who’ve trained in styles from jazz, to Indian, to Paraguayan. What they all have in common, though, is their mastery of Celtic-style music and that’s what shines throughout this album.

The range of instruments that were used to create this release is phenomenal. There are the easily recognizable sounds of instruments like drums, guitar, bass and violin mixed with the captivating sounds of instruments like the harp, bouzouki, and the fiddle. Although these instruments all have their histories rooted in different countries and styles of music, Elizabeth Nicholson and Stringed Migration brought them all together to create a modern take on classic Celtic music that was influenced by living in a country like America where musicians, and all people, can be exposed to the music of uncountable cultures.

The highlight of the album, for me, would have to be the title track, Fly Not Yet, where Nicholson is able to show off her wonderfully powerful, but not dominating voice by singing the words of the Irish poet Thomas Moore.

The strings work beautifully throughout this album to create interesting and enchanting melodies that sound harmonic beside the raw and natural sounds coming from the percussion. Mix that with Nicholson’s voice, which is a whole other instrument in and of itself, and you’ve got an album that’s both fascinating and a pleasure to listen to.

-Lucid Forge magazine, Canada




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