Joseph Fire Crow,
Cheyenne Nation
(Makoche, 2000)

Cheyenne Nation features a Native American flute with full-bodied accompaniment. The guitar takes on a call-and-answer tone and style with the flute that will keep you mesmerized, and the flute does the same with the chanting. Joseph Fire Crow is an extremely skilled musician and demonstrates his ability on the flute, percussion and vocals with this contemporary collection of radically diverse pieces.

"By My Own Hand" begins the collection with a solid piece. It blew me away. The chanting and singing is fantastic. It is soft, often whispered and has an overall sacred quality. This song seems to reach inside you and move all the way to your toenails with a tingling sensation.

"War Dancer" picks up the pace with a rapid drum, rattle and chanting and high-pitched staccato flute notes. There are many flute effects in this piece, but the most amazing thing is that the flute sounds like the chanting. It is killer! Fire Crow has mastered a technique that is a cross between a trill and a double note. This is the most difficult technique to execute successfully, in my opinion.

To produce it, you cover half the hole, followed by completely sealing the hole. The difficulty comes into play when you try to recreate the amount of open space in the hole. Very few players are consistent with this technique. Here is a master! I really like his playing better than most Native American flute players. He constantly uses special effects and his playing is upbeat, even when it is extremely slow.

If you like trills and rips, go straight to "Cheyenne Honor Song." The flute work is outstanding! The only thing I can fault is that Fire Crow's breathing is as clearly audible as the flute. However, this is not necessarily bad. It actually adds an urgency and pace that offsets the slow percussion and creates an odd sensation. If it's a walking bass that tickles your fancy, check out "Bobtail Horse."

The musicians who join Fire Crow on this CD are Jovino Santos Neto (piano, keyboards), Jon Nyborg (guitar), John Scalia (bass), Dale Heib (drums), Gary Stroutsos (percussion, whistles) and David Swenson (percussion, keyboards).

Cheyenne Nation is a fantastic collection of contemporary Native American flute music, and Joseph Fire Crow is a master with the flute who has arranged for excellence throughout the collection with his supporting musicians. There is not a bad track on this CD and I loved every one. It seemed that each one had some element that stood out, such as the piano in "Circle Dance." Every song is my favorite when it is playing!

- Rambles
written by Alicia Karen Elkins
published 14 June 2003

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