Friday night saw the start of the latest series of Transatlantic Sessions on BBC 4. This series follows the format of the previous series; musicians from Britain and North America are brought together in a country house in Scotland to play songs and tunes from their separate and shared cultures.
Watching this set lead me to the three records Danny Thompson made with his group Whatever between 1987 and 1990. These are jazz albums but feature some folk tunes and some folk instruments including Northumbrian pipes.
The stand out track for me on the “Whatever Next” album is Dargai -I just love this tune. Digging around on the Internet I have learnt that it was written by James Scott Skinner and commemorates a victory by Gordon Highlanders during the Afghan Wars. On 20 November 1897, men from the Gordon Highlanders and the Gurkhas seized Dargai on the North-West frontier.
Danny Thompson and Whatever’s version of this tune is posted below, but make sure you listen to an extract of Skinner playing available here.