"Your record is terrific. Give me that good old seventeen and a half four any time."
David Amram

"There are moments of true brilliance in this zany musical eclecticism ..... Leigh Cline's ORIENT EXPRESS is technically impeccable, and acoustically thrilling."

Issue 282 December 2006

Al Asha Bi Daha: Traditional Songs of the Eastern Black Sea
Scimitar Records SRD 0601

The title is a traditional Black Sea call for flagging dancers to rejoin the circle: one more time! Canadian multi-instrumentalist Leigh Cline is rightly respected for his work in Greek and Turkish traditions, and here he teams up with Greek vocalist Nikolas Michailidis for a set of 16 pieces from the Turkey/Georgia border.

Of Black Sea ancestry, Michailidis plays the three-stringed Pontic fiddle called Pontiaki lyra in Greek and Karadeniz kemencesi in Turkish (much of the repertoire is common to the two communities) as well as the imposing davul drum. His authoritative renditions provide the main narrative of this CD. These are traditional pieces but what distinguishes the production from many similar releases is Cline’s success in creating a soundscape that is both danceable and repays repeated, close listening. He plays guitar throughout. Now, bad guitar playing – sometimes by famous names – can drown modal music by the crass use of primary and sophisticated chords, but Cline displays a musical intelligence that complements and enhances the intriguing harmonic implications of this non-harmonic music. Also, he has negotiated a tempo that invites appreciation of the vocal and lyra line, as well as the underlying pulse. Combine this with a technically sensitive recording of the vocals and fiddle that has rarely been bettered and the result is a delightful, refreshing CD of Black Sea music.

Chris Williams
© Folk Roots Magazine 2006
Reprinted by Permission

Issue 258 December 2004

Scimitar Records SRD 0402

A happy collision - sorry, deliberate meeting - of elements of Greek and Celtic music under the guiding hand of Canadian Cline, long-time fan/player of both traditions. Mixing musicians from each culture, what came to mind when this played was Planxty's Timedance, all kinds of ethnic ideas swirl around in a big production that ends up fast enough to knacker the Roadrunner.

© Folk Roots Magazine 2004
Reprinted by Permission