Mhairi Hall Trio were 'wonderful to listen to' - The Arran Banner

The Music Society is to be congratulated on their sagacity and ability in bringing such a wide spectrum of performances to the island. These allow us to hear many varieties of music to help stimulate our appetite for ever widening horizons and give us a greater appreciation of the world of music. And the Mhairi Hall Trio did exactly that.

In a quite unique display of technical and emotional brilliance their entire programme was based on and around the Cairngorm area with traditional and new pieces collected and composed by Mhairi Hall. She was assisted by Fraser Stone on drums and Michael Bryan on guitar to such an extent that they were as much together that they were a complete unit - wonderful to listen to!

'Cairngorm Dance' was a lovely piece full of melodic variety, as was Tullochgrue first composed around 1720. 'People and Places' was a pot pourri of the area and brought to an end this concert in a rousing finish - an unusual and entertaining night!

(HR for The Arran Banner, 3 December 2011)

R2 Magazine (Dai Jeffries) Issue 18

I’m not overly fond of the piano in folk music, nor is piano jazz my first choice of listening, so I was surprised and then delighted to find myself thoroughly enjoying the debut album by the Mhairi Hall Trio. Mhairi was raised in Aviemore, in the heart of the Cairngorms, and the record sets out to evoke the landscape and people of the region in traditional music and her own compositions. Fraser Stone (drums and percussion) and Michael Bryan (guitar) complete the trio with producer Donal Lunny adding bouzouki.

The album opens with ‘The Source’, an 18th century Strathspey actually called ‘The Source of the Spey’, and you certainly hear the water splashing over rocks in the counterpoint of piano and drums. Labelling Cairngorm as simply jazz would be unfair: it’s a fascinating fusion of styles with Mhairi’s own ‘Kinapol’ as soothing as a traditional air and ‘Nighean a’Bhadaich an Ruighe an Aitinn’ sounding like a jazz workout.

The album was launched, spectacularly, by transporting a grad piano to the Ptarmigan Restaurant at the top of Cairn Gorm. The instrument pictured is not it nor, thank goodness, is the precious Steinway used for the recording.

CELTIC CONNECTIONS - The Mhairi Hall Trio (Strathclyde Suite, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

HI-ARTS Feature (www.hi-arts.co.uk)

BARRY GORDON reckons pianist Mhairi Hall is set to make her own mark

IF THERE'S one trio to keep your eye on this year it's Mhairi Hall's. The Aveimore-born pianist has, for what seems like eons, been content carving out a career as an accompanist for others, tinkling the ivories for the likes of Lauren McColl and Shona Mooney amongst others. Now, though, she's stepping out on her own, finally taking the plunge to front her own outfit. And my, has it been worth the wait.

The modest Hall put on an exemplary performance here, showcasing a plethora of highly inventive, innovative tunes inspired by the many people and places centered around the mountains of the Cairngorms.


Published in The Scotsman (1 Feb 2010)
CELTIC CONNECTIONS Strathclyde Suite, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on 29th January 2010
by Barry Gordon

AFTER years lurking in the shadows as an accompanist for others, the wait to see Aviemore pianist Mhairi Hall front her own outfit has been well worth it. An underrated talent, this enchanting five-star set from her Trio, inspired by the people and places from around the Cairngorms, is possibly the slickest, funkiest arrangement of traditional tunes ever heard. Backed by Fraser Stone's fussy drumming and Mike Bryan's acoustic guitar, the many Strathspeys aired were given a gratifying Steely Dan twist, courtesy of Hall's complex chords and cute tune structuring. Dynamic, exhilarating, insightful.

THE DAILY RECORD album feature of Cairngorm

Published in The Daily Record album feature of Cairngorm (15th Jan 2010)
By Rick Fulton

REMEMBER pictures of a piano left at the top of Cairngrom? Well it was Aviemore-based pianist Mhairi Hall (and friends) who hoofed the piano up the mountain and played a short live set to launch the album. Mhairi, joined by Michael Bryan on acoustic guitar and Fraser Stone on drums create a very interesting mix - like jazzy Scots folk. So while album opener The Source has the jazz beat, Mhairi plays folk melodies on her piano using a 1700s strathspey. With Paolo Nutini pushing traditional Scots folk on Sunny Side Up, never has it been a better time to twist our old music with a contemporary twist. While she also uses old standards for second tune Strathspeys From Strathspey, A Good Winter is her own but fits in perfect. The dizzy piano playing could be from now or a song from 300 years ago. But it

THE IRISH WORLD online Cairngorm Album Feature

THE IRISH WORLD online album feature of Cairngorm (12th Jan 2010)
by Shelley Marsden


Maverick Magazine - Album review


This being her debut release, Glasgow-based Mhairi Hall has decided to surround herself with some quite amazing musicians in order to make this album. Not actually recorded in the city she resides in, Mhairi and her trio headed to picturesque Crear in Argyll, Scotland where she plumped herself in fron of a Steinway piano and recorded these ten songs alongside Michael Bryan on acoustic guitar, Fraser Stone on both drums and percussion along with producer Donal Lunny who also guests on bouzouki. Together, they create such a delightful sound which is a joy to hear.

Out of these tracks, Strathspeys from Strathspey in the finests. With a somber opening as heard in Scott Joplin’s Solace it becomes a tad more high-spirited as the song progresses. When it reaches this stage, it then explodes due to the inclusion of some sublimely played instrumentations. It has an expert jamming sound about it which must to great to catch live. With a rolling sound provided by Mhairi, Cairngorm Dance would be a bona fide folk song if a penny whistle or fiddle was incorporated into the mix, but what you do have is as delightful a track you’ll ever want to hear. Tullochgrue, like many songs on this album, would be an amazing sight to see performed live. Although it has a slower pace than many on this record, Mhairi’s efforts on piano seem to wine and dine you with each note carefully tinkled in the most voluptuous way possible. With the record’s recording costs helped out by the Cairngorms National Park Authority, this truly mesmerizing album is one I wholeheartedly recommend to those who prefer their music to be both relaxing and stupendous.

Cairngorm - The Financial Times (David Honigmann)

The Mhairi Hall Trio set 18th century Scottish reels, strathspeys and airs. Hall is at the Steinway, her right hand piping away fast on the melody while her left plays runs of slow chords. Then Fraser Stone’s drum kit locks in to hammer the rhythm home. Michael Bryan adds discreet guitar from time to time. Donal Lunny, producing immaculately on location at Crear in Argyll, contributes the odd bouzouki riff. But this is Hall’s album, and the other musicians are wise enough to stay out of her way.

THE LIST **** Album review of Caingorm

Published in The List (3/10/09)
by Kenny Mathieson

Aviemore-born pianist Mhairi Hall dragged a piano to the top of Cairngorm (well, with a bit of help) to launch this album, an appropriate enough gesture for a record very much steeped in the landscape and ethos of her native Strathspey. Not unreasonably, it opens with just that, an 18th century Strathspey entitled…

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