Alice Gomez, with Madalyn
Blanchett & Marilyn Rife,
Obsidian Butterfly
(Silver Wave, 1999)

Obsidian Butterfly is the second-best CD available today in contemporary Native American music. If you do not own it, you are missing out on a rare listening treat!

Check out the list of percussion instruments used: marimba, log drums, pow-wow drums, Peruvian bombo, Indian gourd casaba, quiro, maracas, rattles, seed rattles, frog scraper, triangle, rain stick, dance bells, wind chimes, bamboo chimes, puili sticks, Pakistani tambourine, quijada, suspended cymbals, gong, African djembe, cajon, gongas and bongos. If you love percussion and the special effects produced by a variety of instruments, this CD is a dream come true!

Every selection is awesome! Each flute is my favorite while it is playing, but then the next begins and my heart proves to be a traitor to the previous one. The serene, flowing, style of "Celestial Dancer" and "Pyramid Temples" becomes the fast, staccato celebration of "The Ancient Ones" and "Passage to MesoAmerica" and my heart flutters. The lonesome vibrato of "Sacred Landscapes" is spiritual indeed. The variety in this collection is an absolute smorgasbord to whet your musical appetite!

Alice Gomez has been playing music since she was a small child. On this CD, she plays the acoustic and electric guitars, synthesizer, keyboard bass, clay flutes, cow horn and percussion. Madalyn Blanchett, Alice's sister, began playing piano and woodwinds at a young age. She plays the sopranino, soprano, alto and tenor recorders, panpipes and synthesizer in this collection. Marilyn Rife began studying percussion in grade school and joins in on the marimba, synthesizer, keyboard bass, clay flutes and percussion.

Additional selections include "Voices of the Wind," "Ghost Dance," "Path of Dreams," "Eagles Flight," "Spirits of the Earth," "Soul Healer," "Cloud Serpent" and "Searching for the Aztecs."

This trio is one my favorites in Native American music. I have not encountered any work by them that is less than brilliant. Alice and Madalyn have that special "connectedness" that only a lifetime of playing together can provide. They have found the ideal third person in Marilyn. However, this CD runs a close second to While the Eagle Sleeps, which is my favorite collection by these delightfully talented ladies. It is the very best collection of lullabies on the market.

Even though this one takes second place, it is still far better than most contemporary Native American music and belongs in the collection of every serious music lover! I hear everybody talking about the skill and "gifted nature" of R. Carlos Nakai and I wonder why these people are not suggesting he study the music of Gomez, Blanchett and Rife. These ladies consistently produce exceptional work that carries the listener deep inside the native world and reveals the splendor of our connection with nature. They could "take Nakai to school" on contemporary native music, especially flute playing. Get this CD and see if you do not agree that Nakai does not lead the field of Native American flute music.

- Rambles
written by Alicia Karen Elkins
published 7 June 2003

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