The Gift

Chris Leslie with Beryl Marriottye

Cassette only BEJO-5

Chris Leslie's first album for Beautiful Jo takes its title from a Shaker hymn- one of the collection's highlights - which opens with the lyric, "It's the gift to be simple, it's the gift to be free..." And this is a very personal selection, played on acoustic fiddle. Recorded at Woodworm Studios the album contains 15 tracks lasting a total of some 60 minutes. Material includes brilliantly inventive settings of "18th Century English Dances" and the standard double jig "Tenpenny Bit"; the hauntingly beautiful songs "The Wife of the Red-Haired Man" and "I Wandered By a Brookside"; a heartstopping Highland pibroch and two compositions "Linda's Tune" and "Samuel's Shoes/Imogen's Reel" dedicated by Chris to his wife and two children.

Beryl Marriott, Chris Leslie's partner on the album, is Britain's leading exponent of folk keyboard. A traditional dance player of unrivalled experience she has had a long association with various members of Fairport Convention and influenced many other current musicians. Beryl's career spans the whole of the postwar folk revival, and she is heard here - both as player and arranger - in scintillating form.

Tracks from THE GIFT have been played on programmes as different as Radio 2's Folk on Two, and Richard Baker's classical In Tune (Radio 3), and Chris and Beryl were one of the unexpected highlights of the 1996 Cropredy Festival .

What the critics have said...
'First-rate fiddle music,'
Jim Lloyd, BBC, Folk on Two

'While the reels fly along - taking in the odd gypsy scrape here, doffing a courtly cap to the 18th century there - it's more than just another fiddle album, and The Red-Haired Man's Wife and I Wandered by a Brookside prove that Leslie's oh-so English voice can carry conviction as well as a tune.'
Rob Beattie, Q magazine

'The Gift quite simply sets new standards for musical empathy between kindred spirits ... This is a beautifully paced acoustic album, packed full of inspired and memorable playing, and certainly the highpoint of Leslie's career to date.'
John C. Falstaff, Dirty Linen magazine (USA)

'Simple, elegant and uncluttered,'
EB, Sing Out! magazine (USA)

'Fabulous ... this is timeless music.'
Marius Roeting, editor, New Folk Sounds magazine (Netherlands)

'Whippersnapper fiddler Chris Leslie and first lady of folk piano Beryl Marriott make a great noise together ... The title refers to the first line of a Shaker hymn, "It's the gift to be simple, it's the gift to be free ..." and that's just what this album is; simply wonderful and free of any pretensions. The arrangements of tunes for piano and fiddle are exemplary and the playing throughout is faultless.'
Sean McGhee, Rock 'n' Reel magazine

'Elegant, swirling flights of movement ... oh, it's just wonderful! This is classical folk music. It is simply exquisite'.
Jon Sims, Folk on Tap magazine

'Of the instrumental pieces it is invidious to select specific items because frankly they are all so good ...
The album deserves to be heard extensively and I am sure it will appeal to a wide audience.'
Chris Mills, Shire Folk magazine

'Skills which beguile with their gentle yet filigree caresses ... in terms of sheer breathless beauty you will find no finer.'
Derek Taylor, Folk London magazine

'A really nice acoustic album. Something for everyone here!'
Nick Passmore, Taplas magazine.

Copyright © 1996/2003 Beautiful Jo Records