Sunday, November 9, 2008

In Review--Transcendental India

Kala Ramnath and Rupak Kulkarni
The Divine Wheel
Sense World Music

Indian classical violinist Kala Ramnath is no stranger to my ears. I have heard several of her delightful recordings and I am especially fond of her jugalbandi recordings. On one of her latest recordings, The Divine Wheel, she teams up with bansuri flute player Rupak Kulkarni.

Recorded live at the Saptak Festival in India, the musicians perform Raag Jog and Raag Des. Most of the tracks are short enough for radio play with the exception of the longest track, Vilambit Gat in Ektaal which runs 23 minutes. Kulkarni's bansuri flute compliments Ramnath's violin and these two players take their listeners to transcendental heights. The live recording adds to the excitement. Listeners of this disc might wish they enjoyed front row seats at that festival performance.

I have tried to listen to this CD at bedtime, but find it too active. It is definitely a daytime listening experience for me and one that captures my undivided attention. For those listeners who enjoy both bansuri and violin, this CD offers a rare and wonderful treat. Indulge!


In Review--Ancestors of the Red Earth

courtesy of Ixtlan Recording Consortium

Kevin Locke
Earth Gift
Ixtlan Recording Consortium

Lakota flutist, storyteller and dancer Tokaheya Inajin (Kevin Locke), has tirelessly promoted culture and music to both adults and children throughout the years. His newest recording, Earth Gift offers a profound connection to this great planet through the songs of the Lakota. The recording shows Locke paying homage to the earth, to his ancestors, animal spirits, and collector of Native American songs, Frances Densmore.

Producer and musician Tom Wasinger (Joanne Shenandoah & Mary Youngblood), offers his expertise on this disc. Besides producing Earth Gift, he also played cymbalom, percussion, udu and zither, not to mention instruments made directly from the natural world. Locke (rattles, vocals and flute), joins up with Doug Good Feather (lead vocals and drum), Gracie RedShirt Tyon (accompaniment vocals) and Wasinger. The end result is a recording that connects heaven and earth thus creating balance.

I have only heard one other recording by Locke, First Flute (Makoche), in which the flutist performed outdoors with the sound of nature swirling around his flute. Earth Gift possesses the Wasinger signature with some loops of natural sounds combined with international and Native American instruments. Locke brings a lot of passion to his flute as do the other musicians to their respective instruments. And the key word here is "respect" for nature, for Lakota legends, traditions, songs and Mother Earth.

Locke sums up the whole listening experience in the liner notes that can be found in an exquisite CD booklet. "The use of sound as preparation for the journey to a higher state of being is a cross-cultural concept. From Buddhist chantings to Aboriginal didgeridoo, sound brings us to the sacred. In Lakota, the sound of a song is a prayer, a means of connection back to the place of oneness. The screech of an eagle, the explosion of thunder..."

A collection of traditional songs related to eagle, thunder, animals and other natural realms appear on this CD flowing into each other similar to a river into a lake. Here too, many thoughts and emotions flow into a lake we call oneness or unity. I can hear a lot of thought, feeling, passion and compassion that went into this soulful recording. I highly recommend it to anyone choosing to experience oneness in their everyday existence. This truly is music for a new age, a new dawn for this continent and throughout the earth. or