The collaboration of fiddler Alasdair Fraser and pianist Paul Machlis is one of pure beauty and passion. —Michael Moll, Folkworld CD Reviews
Scottish fiddle master Alasdair Fraser and California composer/keyboardist Paul Machlis have woven a spell for audiences across North America and Europe since 1984, intricately blending Scottish tradition with contemporary arrangements and improvisations. The duo's richly expressive playing transports listeners across a broad musical spectrum, ranging from haunting laments in the Gaelic tradition, to classically-styled airs and wild, raucous dance tunes.
While their acclaimed 1987 release The Road North "jumpstarted the Celtic New Age fusion that exploded in popularity in the 1990's" (All Music Guide), the duo's most recent recording Legacy of the Scottish Fiddle, Volume One goes, as Fraser says "back to the well," celebrating three centuries of Scottish tradition. With their Celtic sextet Skyedance, Fraser and Machlis have released three albums, including the most recent, Skyedance Live in Spain, which captures some of their dynamic stage presence. Most of their recordings are available on Fraser's own label, Culburnie Records, founded in 1986 with the release of the first Fraser/Machlis duo album, Skyedance, which features lush, eloquent arrangements of Gaelic melodies. Paul Machlis's Culburnie release The Bright Field includes many of Paul's own compositions.
"Alasdair Fraser is recognized throughout the world as one of the finest fiddle players Scotland has ever produced. His name is synonymous with the vibrant cultural renaissance that is transforming the Scottish musical scene," raved SCOTS Magazine, and the San Francisco Examiner called him "the Michael Jordan of Scottish fiddling." He has appeared on numerous nationally televised programs in Scotland and the U.S., and plays on some of the most popular movie soundtracks of all time, including Last of the Mohicans and Titanic. Through his recordings, fiddle courses and concerts, Alasdair Fraser has inspired legions of listeners and learners worldwide. Alasdair's Valley of the Moon Scottish Fiddling School, a summer camp held annually in the northern California redwoods, will celebrate its 20th year in 2003.
Born in 1955, Fraser was raised in the village of Clackmannan in central Scotland. There he studied violin technique at school with his revered teacher, William Fernie, while simultaneously being steeped in Scottish traditional music at home. After winning Scotland's coveted National Mod Fiddle competition two years running while still in his teens, Fraser made frequent BBC TV and Radio appearances and toured throughout the US and Europe. Fraser's University of Edinburgh Honours Degree in Math and Physics led to 10 years employment with British Petroleum as a petrophysicist, a profession that Fraser left in 1986 to pursue a full-time career in music.
Fraser met pianist/composer Paul Machlis in 1983, while giving a Scottish music workshop in Paul's hometown of Berkeley, California. Paul had been active in Scottish dance band circles for many years, and when Alasdair asked if there was a pianist in the house, Paul volunteered, sparking a 20-year partnership that has produced seven recordings and numerous concert tours.