R. Carlos Nakai,
(Canyon, 2008)

Although the Native American flute has been in existence for more than 2,500 years, it just started to reach major audiences in the 1980s. Navajo-Ute flutist R. Carlos Nakai was at the crest of that wave and, with his new CD Talisman, shows he is still riding strong. The longevity of the art form and his role in it speaks both of the resilient spirit of the Native American cultures and of the mastery of Nakai.

Starting off his career with several solo recordings, Nakai has continually journeyed through many different musical worlds. Collaborating with other musicians in duets, jazz ensembles and symphonic orchestras, he draws a wide circle of cross-cultural exploration.

In Talisman, Nakai returns to his roots, the solo flute. Every other track is dubbed with a second flute part. In this case, more is better. Lower notes ground the pieces, while the upper register ornamentations circle over our heads like an eagle. The purity of his tone and his compositions take your mind through ancient dwellings of red clay under blue skies.

With the track "Sunrise Prayer, In Beauty" Nakai's voice accompanies the flute. The rhythm of the vocal part compliments the flute's gliding style. "Wisdom's Edge" is a wonderful duet of call and response with a mellow toned flute playing off a brighter sounding instrument.

This new release is classic Nakai and holds up to any of his prior recordings.

review by
Thomas Ardizzone

20 December 2008

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