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Pete Cooper and Richard Bolton
English Roots Fiddle & Cello


The day's first highlight for me was from Pete Cooper and Richard Bolton whose virtuoso renditions of folk classics on cello and violin were distinctive.'
- Warwick Folk Festival, David Chambers, BBC website, 2004

Born in the Midlands, Pete - fiddle, mandolin, vocals - and Richard - cello, guitar, vocals - teamed up as a duo in 1999 after meeting at the London Fiddle Convention. They explore dance tunes from English and other folk traditions, sing British and American folk songs and present exciting new pieces of their own. They've appeared at Warwick, Cheltenham and Oxford folk festivals, performed and taught at Dartington International Summer School, Wigmore Hall and Wren Music, Devon and play regularly at folk clubs - especially Islington Folk Club, their home from home.

'I already knew Pete was a good violinist, but this collaboration deserves to have the pair hoisted into the top ranks of folk duos. As Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas have proved in Scotland, cello and fiddle really do combine well…'
- Tabernacle Folk, Christopher Conder, fRoots magazine, June 2012

Pete Cooper

Pete teaches, composes and writes about traditional fiddling and is director of the London Fiddle School. He is probably best known for his book The Complete Irish Fiddle Player (Mel Bay publications, 1995) and his five book/CDs for Schott Music: Irish Fiddle Solos (2004), English Fiddle Tunes (2006), Eastern European Fiddle Tunes (2007), American Old Time Fiddle Tunes (2009) and New Fiddle Tunes (2013). Pete also plays as a member of Anglo-Appalachian trio Rattle on the Stovepipe. 'A one-man fiddle inspiration industry... one of the leading behind-the-scenes activists' - fRoots, 2006

Richard Bolton

Richard started cello at the age of nine while living in Belfast and added rock and blues guitar during his teens in Birmingham. He played guitar with bluesman Billy Jenkins and performed with Sir Willard White in his Paul Robeson tribute concerts. He played cello on June Tabor's A Quiet Eye and Rosa Mundi, while his album City Life (Babel Label, 2002) showcased his fine compositions for the Richard Bolton Group. He plays an early 19th century English cello.

Angel's Waltz (BC 104) is Pete and Richard's latest album on the Big Chain label. 'Two superbly innovative musicians at the height of their craft'
- Jenny Coxon, English Dance & Song magazine
Like Turning Point (BC 101) and The Savage Hornpipe (BC 103), it's available as a CD or as a download on iTunes.

To sample some of the tracks click on the album cover:

Angel Waltz CDTurning Point CDThe Savage Horpipe CD
phone +44 (0)20 8340 7760
mobile 07960 329527

Angels's Waltz

Pete Cooper and Richard Bolton
are proud to announce the release of their
third album of English Roots Fiddle and Cello music -
dance tunes, original pieces and songs
(Big Chain BC104)

'Two superbly innovative musicians at the height of their craft; communicating their love of the material they choose to play, while continuing to explore and develop their repertoire and range. Straightforward traditional English, classical, jazz, blues, world roots: all these performing styles are skilfully utilised, but not at the expense of communicating and sharing the intrinsic qualities of each piece.…Do not miss this superb album.'
- Jenny Coxon, English Dance & Song magazine

'Pete and Richard's third eclectic, vigorously executed collection, delivering mainly tunes from old fiddlers' manuscripts, spiced with several originals, along with three contrasted songs.'
- fRoots magazine, 376

Jigs, reels and triple hornpipes from 18th and 19th century fiddlers, 'Jamaica' from Playford (1670), a brace of triple hornpipes ('John of the Green' and 'The Presbyterian Hornpipe'), a tune from Cahusac's 'Country Dances for the Year 1800' and 'Lemmy Brazil's', a tap dance from the Forest of Dean - all are played (mostly on fiddle and cello) in fresh and striking arrangements, with some nifty guitar from Richard. Pete and Richard also play a poignant Hungarian funeral tune collected by Béla Bartók.

Pete sings a setting of John Clare's 'A Gipsy's Life', a murder tale from Missouri, 'Duncan and Brady', and 'That Lucky Old Sun'. Richard contributes new pieces 'Djarabesque' and 'Hacksaw', from a work-in-progress suite based on various African musics, as well as 'Dufton Pike', a reel he wrote in the Lake District. Pete offers a pair of jigs, 'Rilloby Rill' and 'Maisy' and the title track, 'Angel's Waltz'.

Pete Cooper and Richard Bolton

'This versatile duo traverse Africa on the way to Missouri, back to Hungary, a dash to Jamaica and home to England in time for tea, before finishing with a Ray Charles hit "That Lucky Old Sun". Lots of great tunes, all in stylish and effective arrangements with complete seamlessness between cello and fiddle.'
- Tom Bell-Richards, FiddleOn magazine

The Savage Hornpipe

On their second (2006) album of Contemporary English Roots Fiddle Music and Songs (Big Chain 103) Pete Cooper and Richard Bolton are joined by Dave Townsend (English concertina) and piano accordionists Sue Lee and Ann Sloboda.

'Their strongest release yet, full of melodic richness and ingenuity'
- Andrew Cronshaw, fRoots magazine

'From the heady rhythms of 'Roadrage' to the eerie harmonies of 'Wilbye's Lament' this album is lively and accomplished... Cooper and Bolton bring fresh ideas to old tunes and mix these with several creations of their own, all played with drive.'
- Alice Little, Fiddle On magazine, 2006

1 Roadrage/ Berserk
2 Persian Ricardo
3 Maiden Lane/ The World Turned Upside Down
4 Synapse/ Hod the Lass
5 The Cuckoo's Nest
6 Ashley's/ Savage Hornpipe
7 The Sleeper
8 Snicket/ Gnosall
9 Acton Township
10 The Lover's Ghost
11 Katya
12 Ironlegs/ Sportsman's
13 Salisbury Plain¢
14 Wilbye's Lament
15 Galopede

Pete Cooper & Richard Bolton

'In its pre-Victorian golden age,' says Pete, 'English fiddle music was a mongrel tradition. It evolved in a constant shuttle between town and country, 'high' culture and 'low'. Clare's manuscripts, for example, where we found The Savage Hornpipe, are an amazing rag-bag of English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, American, French and German dance tunes, along with song airs, and music for the theatre and opera house. Clare's is just one of numerous country fiddlers' collections which, taken together, reveal the breadth and vitality of English fiddle music in its heyday.'

Pete Cooper & Richard Bolton

'Some of the tunes here are from the manuscripts and notebooks of Midlands fiddler and poet John Clare, but there are also original compositions and, while some of the tunes may be familiar, the use of Richard Bolton's cello ensures that the arrangements are not. Have a listen to the percussive (sometimes literally) playing on The Sleeper, then to the almost classical feel of Katya a couple of tracks later. Pete's no mean singer either, showing excellent comic timing on a delightfully risqué version of The Cuckoo's Nest. Then, towards the end, when you think you've got them nailed, they hit you with the smokey, French-sounding (to my ear) jazz arrangement of Wilbye's Lament featuring some really tasty guitar work from Richard. Very listenable indeed and a good showcase of some fine talent.'
- Phil Thomas, The Living Tradition, Issue 73

" 'Acton Town' is named for Richard Bolton's nearest tube station and as homage to the cello playing of Dollar Brand (Abdullah Ibrahim) the South African jazz pianist. 'The Sleeper' is described as a collision between the styles of Donegal and the Balkans. 'Maiden Lane/ The World Upside Down' joins up a 1651 Playford dance tune with Leon Rosselson's classic song about the hopes and ultimate fate of the Diggers. 'Wilbye's Lament' is a lovely elegaic piece by Richard Bolton in the style of John Wilbye (1574 - 1638) on the early death of a musician friend. There is not a dud track on this CD, and for anyone who loves our tradition it is well worth keeping on the CD player for a long time."
- TF, Folk London Oct-Nov 2006

Pete Cooper & Richard Bolton

'One particularly interesting set is Cooper's 'Synapse' combined with the eighteenth century Lake District version of 'Hod the Lass'. Beginning in the rather un-English metre of eleven (3+3+2+3), it segues marvellously into the wildly-syncopated traditional reel… A couple of newish tunes in traditional style, such as 'Snicket' by Sue Lee and Cooper's 'G for Gnosall' could easily slip into a session… A couple of songs round out the selection. Cooper and Bolton's version of 'The Cuckoo's Nest' is based on a major tune from John Clare's collection, and is recorded here with a slight smirk, and hint of ska in the rhythm section. Good fun. The dark and spooky 'Salisbury Plain' was collected by Ralph Vaughan Williams and Cooper and Bolton use drones and dissonances to heighten the effect of the mournful melody… Enjoy!' 
- Elaine Bradtke, English Dance & Song

Turning Point

Pete Cooper and Richard Bolton
Turning Point

Fiddle and Cello duets
(Big Chain BC101)

1. CHIP Chip and Rant/ Northern Frisk/ Charlesworth Hp.
3. MOLLY Chicken and Dumplings/ Handsome Molly
5. BUZZ Flaxley Green/ Robinson's/ Catching The Buzz
6. PEACE A Time for Peace
7. HACKNEY Devil at the Bar /Bonnie H./ Farewell to Chernobyl
8. THIRTEEN Pelistersko Oro
9. HEARTBEAT Heartbeat Polska/ Spiky/ Happy Outcome
10. LOUISE Louise/ Miser (aka The Deadline)/ The Catch
12. ISLINGTON Farewell To Islington

Pete and Richard's first album (Big Chain BC101), recorded and mastered by Jon Wilkinson at the Steam Rooms, London May-July 2001. Pete Cooper (fiddle & voice) and Richard Bolton (cello), with John Dipper (fiddle) on Chip and Buzz. Their set ranges from traditional 3/2 hornpipes to Lorna, described by Shirley Collins as 'quite simply one of the most beautiful and beguiling pieces of music I've heard.'

'Explores and invigorates the English stringband tradition'
- English Dance and Song magazine

'Pete Cooper's fiddle playing will be well known to fR readers, and here he's joined by cellist Bolton (who's played on the last two June Tabor CDs amongst many other things). Add this one to the fast growing genre of 'folk extrapolated into classical'. There's plain honest dance tunes in there - not least the 'Abbot's Bromley Horn Dance' - but the duo find new and fascinating places to lead them to. A lot of the pieces are Cooper compositions, although I wouldn't underestimate the amount of improvisation and mutual intuition that's applied to them. His wistful 'August' is a particular highlight.'
- Nick Beale, fROOTS, June 2002

'Is this just another English folk music duo? Definitely not; the music of Pete Cooper and Richard Bolton is unique on the English scene… A lot of the material on their debut album is written by Pete Cooper, alongside traditional numbers. The roots of the music are in England, yet they take up influences from the 'Celtic' countries as well as the Balkans and Sweden. The musical pace changes between quiet and lively, and between improvising and straightforward traditional... the cello adding that special spice and jazzy-classical atmosphere to the music. Worth to check out!'
- Michael Moll,

Pete Cooper & Richard Bolton

'This is billed as an album of "fiddle and cello duets". Now that makes it a bit of an oddity in itself: hands up, the first person to tell me when they last heard a similar combination. But, in their sleeve notes both men are keen to tell us that… this combination is "deeply rooted" in ethnic English music. The tunes come from various sources, with compositions from Pete being particularly striking. They are written very much simpatico to the Tradition: drawing on various playing styles and dance forms. One in particular, 'August', has what it takes to be a classic along the lines of Jay Ungar's 'Ashokan Farewell'. And the playing of both guys is immensely authoritative, and a delight from start to finish… as close to a "Must Buy" as it gets.'
- Dai Woosnam, The Living Tradition

To sample some of the tracks click on the album cover:

Angel Waltz CDTurning Point CDThe Savage Horpipe CD
phone +44 (0)20 8340 7760
mobile 07960 329527




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