The Scotsman Sessions #142: Fraser Fifield

Welcome to The Scotsman Sessions. With performing arts activity curtailed for the foreseeable future, we are commissioning a series of short video performances from artists all around the country and releasing them on scotsman.com, with introductions from our critics. Here, multi-instrumentalist Fraser Fifield introduces an as yet unnamed piece, laying down a backing track with soprano sax, percussion and electronics, then playing low whistle over the top.

It may seem a far cry from Mumbai to Cupar, but the two are linked in the form of piper, saxophonist and whistle maestro Fraser Fifield, who lives in the Fife town and launched his latest album, titled In Mumbai, earlier this year during lockdown.

The downloadable album was the result of a fruitful collaboration with three Indian musicians in Mumbai’s prestigious Yash Raj Films recording studio. For his Scotsman Session, however, he utilised his home studio to record this as yet unnamed piece, laying down a backing track with soprano sax, percussion and some electronics, over which he plays mellifluous low whistle.

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Fifield recorded the music for the album back in June 2016, but didn’t get round to releasing it until this year. It captures him in free-spirited flight with violinist Suresh Lalwani, percussionist Navin Sharma and Sabir Khan on the sarangi or short-necked fiddle. “It was a lovely thing to do,” he says, recalling that for a similarly cross-cultural musical trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina, he had taken a lot of pre-prepared music. “In hindsight, I wish I’d left [the Argentinian musicians] more space, so in Mumbai we just figured things out as we went along.”

Fraser Fifield
Fraser Fifield

Fifield, 44, hopes to be able to follow it up, inviting the Indians to Scotland for a reciprocal visit, “but obviously that’s all up the air just now”. In the meantime, he has been “working away on my music like there’s no tomorrow”, particularly firing up his Highland pipes with a view to a future project “re-inventing piobaireachd.” He is also working on another potential album with his longstanding playing partner, guitarist Graeme Steven.

Like everyone else he is looking for light at the end of the tunnel. Home streaming and recording are all very well, “but one misses so much of the human interaction, I’m reticent to fully embrace the wholly digital realm.”

For more on Fraser Fifield, visit www.fraserfifield.com

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