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CD review: Blessings

Soloist: James McCabe
Featuring: Rothwell Temperance Band; Thomas Guest; Andrew Crawford
CD: 000301017


This enjoyable solo CD has been recorded by cornet player James McCabe in support of The Tanzania Christian Farm Development Trust – founded in 1993 and now carrying out inspirational work at its home in Tabora looking after the welfare of babies and young children.  

The Northern Irishman is an accomplished performer (his CV is testament to that) - the nine tracks chosen to intelligently showcase his substantial talents, from the lyrical to the virtuosic.


That is certainly shown on the title track ‘Blessings!’, written by David Catherwood for The New York Staff Band of the Salvation Army. The lyrical core arises from the hymn, ‘Come Thou fount of every Blessing’ with outer movements having a robust ‘latin feel’ on variants of ‘Count Your Blessings’. 

The treatment of Faure’s ‘Apres un Reve’ is touching in its refinement, balanced in the same vein by pianist Thomas Guest (and the quality of accompaniment is first class throughout by all concerned), and is followed by the exuberance of ‘Standing on the Promises’ which provides contrast with its adept display of flugel work from the soloist.

‘Jewels’ by Howard Evans is a celebratory acclamation of childhood joy played with free-flowing panache, whilst David Catherwood’s, ‘They Shall be Mine’, with organ accompaniment, is a beautifully paced set of slow variations inspired by the lyrics of ‘Jewels’ but using the original hymn tune by George Root.

It’s all rounded off with the familiar sounds of the demanding ‘Rustiques’ by Eugene Bozza – a competition piece that further endorses the soloist’s credentials.

Waspish flourish

‘Rule Britannia’ is played with respect and technical clarity, as is ‘Bonnie Mary of Argyle’, arranged by James and delivered with a waspish flourish complete with its clever ‘Come Back to Erin’ insert. ‘Adoration’ by Felix Borowski has a hefty stamp of class.

It’s all rounded off with the familiar sounds of the demanding ‘Rustiques’ by Eugene Bozza – a competition piece that further endorses the soloist’s credentials.

Although there is a generous, heartfelt sense of purpose with this release, it also provides a showcase for a respected elite level performer of considerable talent. 

It deserves to be bought by the bucketful.

Gordon Eddison

To purchase: http://www.james-mccabe.co.uk/shop/

Play list:

1. Blessings! (David Catherwood)
2. Apres Un Reve (Gabriel Faure)
3. Standing on the Promises (Douglas Court)
4. Jewels (Howard J Evans)
5. They Shall Be Mine (David Catherwood)
6. Rule Britannia (John Hartmann)
7. Bonnie Mary of Argyle (Robert Burns arr. James McCabe)
8. Adoration (Felix Borowski)
9. Rustiques (Eugene Bozza)

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