Tuesday, February 8, 2011

In review--Native Nuevo Flamenco

Gabriel Ayala & Will Clipman
Passion, Fire & Grace
Canyon Records

I spent the weekend fighting off a lung infection. Fortunately, Yaqui classical/flamenco guitarist Gabriel Ayala and master percussionist Will Clipman’s recording Passion, Fire & Grace arrived in my mailbox. I listened to the recording several times over the weekend, even hitting the replay button. And at times I had wished for a long-play or a double CD because I found the music here enticing, healing, and comforting. There’s nothing worse than dealing with a sickness when you’re alone, and music can often bring comfort as this recording did.

The recording supplies its listeners with plenty of flamenco guitar including renditions of work by nuevo flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucìa (Entre Los Aguas) and a younger flamenco guitarist Vicente Amigo. Most of the work here was composed by Ayala from the catchy opener Sonoran Nights to the nuevo flamenco piece Allegro that closes the CD. Native America meets Europe on Whispers from Eagle Hill/Zuni Sunrise, a song that features an archival recording of Ed Lee Natay’s Zuni Sunrise Song and the duo goes Brazilian on Black Orpheus (composed by Luiz Bonfà for the Brazilian movie Black Orpheus). I don’t think I’ve ever seen the movie, but the song sounded familiar to my ears, and definitely another catchy song.

If any Native American or classical guitar album deserves a Grammy, this one does. With exceptional playing by the versatile percussionist Clipman and masterful performances by Ayala, I hope that this album reaches the ears of thousands of listeners (and that’s conservative). I only wish that the album lasted longer. And after hearing Ayala’s recording Portraits (also on Canyon Records) 3 years ago I became a fan of this musician’s work. I definitely see his work as having crossover appeal (classical, flamenco, world, new age, and Native American). Highly recommended.

Also look for the heart-thumping, foot stomping How Sweet the Sound by Southern Scratch on Canyon Records. Southern Scratch plays Waila! music also known as “chicken scratch” which sounds more like Tex-Mex than traditional Native American music, but in fact is Native American traditional music with plenty of rousing accordion.

Northern Cree Randy Wood released a new collection of round dance songs on his latest Round Dances and Songs of the Native Road. Most of the songs (if not all) are sung in English.


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