Sunday, March 11, 2012

In review--Music for canyons and waterfalls

Coyote Jump
Waking from the Roots
Canyon Records

Classical guitarist-composer Colin Farish teams up with Native American flautist John-Carlos Perea under the moniker Coyote Jump.  Similar to R. Carlos Nakai, Perea brings his flute into the realm of chamber music with relaxing results.  The dynamics (pow-wow drums and soaring flute) that you would hear on a Nakai-De Mars (composer James DeMars) does not appear with Coyote Jump’s Waking from the Roots.  This duet leans towards the meditative new age sound, while tossing in ecological themes.  I prefer to listen to this CD before bedtime because of its relaxing qualities. 

While the songs do not resemble impressionist classical music, the musicians composed the songs with an image from nature, from sudden and tumultuous weather (Lightening Drum) to a sacred waterfall in Indian Canyon (Ohlone Waters) and so on.  This is not new in America since many composers Grofe, Copeland, Gershwin, and DeMars have already plowed this terrain. Yet, I like hearing this tradition passed on. The title Salish Sound, composed by Farish caught my attention because I live in the Salish region in Washington State.  I can see from the liner notes that Farish spent some time in Seattle when he studied at Cornish College of the Arts.  The song’s gentle lilting guitar, warm tabla and flute remind me of traveling on ferries in this region.

Midnight Moon offers a gorgeous respite with its blend of choral voices, strings, two pianos, harp and Native American flute, coming off as the most ambitious composition on the recording.  In fact, the musicians gave a lot of love and effort to Waking from the Roots, from composing the songs and then arranging orchestration.  While R. Carlos Nakai was among the first Native American musicians to collaborate with a classical composer, Coyote Jump proudly keeps this new genre (Euro-classical/Native American) alive and kicking.