Tuesday, December 4, 2007

In Review--R. Carlos Nakai Voyagers

R. Carlos Nakai with Udi Bar-David

Canyon Records

Although you don't hear about it in the evening news, alternative or otherwise, musicians play a key role in the peacemaking process across the planet. Navajo-Ute flutist R. Carlos Nakai pairs up with Israeli cellist Udi Bar-David in a cross cultural conversation that includes Middle Eastern modes and scales, classical and jazz music, as well as, Native American flute. In fact, the theme of the recording, Voyagers speaks a Universal language that reminds us that no matter our race, culture or religion, we are essentially all one people.

R. Carlos sums it up in the liner notes, "Separate beings, separate voices, one mind, one dream--human. The social issues of race, color, culture, religion, etceteras all become meaningless defiles and encounters when the interpersonal communication is the language of music..." So I ask you, why do we not see or hear about peacemaking musicians in the news? Why do we only hear about corruption-makers when there is so much goodness in the world trying to reach our souls? Perhaps that is why we reach for our collection of recordings to squelch the bad effects of the evening news on our psyches.

Despite the ignorance of the masses and media-at-large, one listen to Voyagers with its "adventurous imaginations and iconoclastic perspectives," proves that thinking out of the box, bridging cultural gaps and forging new musical frontiers has its rewards. Voyagers is the first recording of its kind to combine Native American, Jewish, Arabic and Turkish idioms and I will add, seamlessly blend all the above. The three players here, R. Carlos, Udi and percussionist Will Clipman possess a great deal of sensitivity and musical masterfulness which they bring to these fourteen stunning tracks.

Occasionally we hear just the cello playing alongside Clipman's world beats such as on the track, Go to the Desert or we hear Native American flute solos. However, when the cello comes together with the flute, such as on the re-arrangements of Amazing Grace, Crow Wing or Lake that Speaks, electrifying music results. The closing track, Indigena Indigenous with Udi plucking his cello like a double-bass and Carlos' enchanted flute fluttering over the top, brings forth a dialogue that should have taken place centuries ago.

I find that I have too many favorite moments and songs on this CD to give it full justice. I know fans of R. Carlos Nakai will run out and pick up this recording, but I would also strongly suggest that any music listener with an adventurous spirit and who enjoys musical innovations and cross-spiritual dialogue, do the same. Treat your ears to out-of-the-box music. Canyon Records

Also see article/tribute on World Music Central