August 31, 2005

Jack’s the lad

Jack Lee recital
National Piping Centre
1 p.m., August 11, 2005

You have to like a piper who steps onto a stage before a hyper-critical audience, blows up his pipe and launches straight into his first set. Jack Lee of Vancouver did just that at his turn at the daily recital at the National Piping Centre as part of Piping Live!

A few 6/8 marches to start, and then some nice, lighter 2/4s written by himself, followed by a stirring set of big jigs, “Donella Beaton” and “The Hen’s March” sticking out for their rhythmical drive and forward motion.

It wasn’t until after those three sets, pipe perfectly settled in the very warm hall (see Bruce Gandy recital), that Lee spoke to the audience with informal information. Right down to business again into nicely-played airs, “Leaving Lismore” and “The Braes of Lochiel” tunes not generally heard from a high-end piper, making them all the better.

“Lament for the Union” is a challenging and seldom-heard tune, but one that has become associated with Jack Lee. Lee’s technical brilliance shined, especially through the difficult crunluath a mach variation where, as usual, no finger was out of place, and the tune was finished with perfectly tuned drones.

He then included a set of three original jigs and hornpipes composed at the Simon Fraser University Pipe Band’s Piping Hot-Summer Drummer workshop. The tunes seemed a bit out of character for Lee’s usual style, but full marks for going after the youthful technical creativity of these new tunes, the composers of which will get a huge boost from Lee including these in the recital and on any subsequent recording.

A barrage of reels with left-thumb and bent notes flying got the biggest reaction for the 50-odd attendees, and Lee finished with a brilliant rendition of R.S. MacDonald’s well kent “Good Drying.”

Again not a packed house, but an almost-full hall and an audience very appreciative of the work of this master piper.


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