Coyote Zen,
Medicine Dog
(PAW/Dustbowl, 2001)

Coyote Zen's Medicine Dog is promoted as a "fusion of cultures." It is that and so much more. This is Native American music incorporating the world.

The first tune, "Pueblo Puppy," is a solid opener for this collection. It has a wonderful beat and soft, "sway-with-me" guitar that will carry you away. I immediately started dancing. It had such a relaxing effect on me that I played it over three times before progressing to the second track. I was thinking nothing could top the first. I might have been wrong.

The second track, "160 (Stomp)," is distinctly jazz oriented, but kicks off with nature sounds and rattles. The bass undertones reach deep inside your soul and force you to move. The soft vocals pull you into the song and set the atmosphere for the Native American flute. Wow! You actually feel this one!

"Eagle & Coyote" slows things dramatically and focuses on the Native American flute and pennywhistle, although there is still a full-bodied accompaniment. The composition perfectly accents the flute, like framing a painting. It is a killer piece of musical artwork!

It is impossible for me to categorize this music. While it is Native American, it would be an injustice not to call it world music. It is also jazz, blues, bluegrass and new age, with Spanish and rock guitar; yet, it is Native American. What a dilemma. Regardless of how you classify it, most listeners will find that it appeals to all their senses and promotes deep relaxation, vivid imagery, and a feeling of intimate contact with the surrounding world.

I cannot imagine any person not finding at least 10 things to love about this CD. Whether you are a guitar fan that falls for "Circling Cimarron," a piano lover who gets into "Green Corn Dancing," a harmonica fancier with a preference for "Ft. Gibson Blues" or a fiddle and mandolin fanatic focusing on "Tall Grass Revival," there is something for every person in this musical smorgasbord. I thought each piece was the best while it was playing. It took me more than two-and-a-half hours to hear the entire CD the first time because I kept hitting the repeat button and listening to tracks several times before progressing to the next.

Coyote Zen's Jeffrey Gray Parker is a composer and producer from the northcentral plains of Oklahoma. He is of Cherokee, French, Irish and Scottish heritage. His skill with instruments includes guitars, bass, percussion, keyboards, Native American flutes, pennywhistles, mandolin, synthesizers, digital and analog drums, and production of nature sounds. While his skill with a variety of instruments is impressive, it is his mastery in the combining of these instruments in radically differing world traditions that will take your breath away. His music has a depth and layering that is mesmerizing. He pulls you in, manipulates your emotions and holds you until he decides to let you go, exercising a control of the listener that is seldom found in the music world. While you are listening to his music, he will rule your world!

I simply cannot offer enough praise for this collection. I am blown away by it. Buy Coyote Zen: Medicine Dog and take a journey with this musical master.

by Alicia Karen Elkins

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