Wednesday, March 6, 2013

In review--Sonoran Beats

World/Native American 
R. Carlos Nakai
Will Clipman
Awakening the Fire
Canyon Records

What happens when R. Carlos Nakai’s flowing flute weds Will Clipman’s tribal beats? In the liner notes for Awakening the Fire, this duo explores the contrasting realms of the Native American flute, a melodic instrument and structured percussion.  One instrument lives outside of time and space, while the other instruments mark time.  Here we have free flowing building a bridge with rhythmic structure and the musicians accomplish a virtually impossible fete where each instrument gives space to the other.  This could only happen with two musicians who have known and worked with each other for a long time.  This takes cooperation, compromise, and excellent listening skills, which Nakai and Clipman possess in abundance.

When combined, the exotic percussion (Clipman has a special room full of global percussion and the intuition to always choose the right drum) and Native American flute create a trancelike effect that wouldn’t work so well for a massage practice (thus the beats), but offers a space to dance or to just give a deep listen via headphones.  The CD is ideal for sound healing too.  The opener, Oasis brings together global beats with playful flute.  On Kindling the Essence, Clipman plays a berimbau giving us a Brazilian flavor. On Caldera, Nakai contributes ghostlike vocals.  Standing Stone is my favorite track featuring Clipman on udu, tambourines (or a jingling percussive instrument), and woodblocks and Nakai playing staccato.

Closing with The Fountain with water sound effects, chimes, reverberated flute (sounds like the musicians are performing in a cave) and Convergence which returns to a world beat meets the Sonoran Desert.  I waited patiently for the release and arrival of Awakening the Fire and I feel honored to review a CD by this master duo.  I highly regard both musicians and I know their passion and fire will awaken their listeners.  Take the journey.

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