American flute music is a beautiful art form which is seldom
recorded by anyone except performers trying to preserve their
own Native American heritage. Once those recordings are made,
they are generally purchased by tourists looking for a reminder
of their vacation. Thus it is a musical art form that has
little exposure or innovation. Generally when non-traditional
instruments are used for Native American flute music, the
attempt is made because a producer wants to create a relatively
cheap album for consumers of New Age music. It is far too
rare to find an album such as this, where someone who was
not raised listening to this music gives it serious consideration
and finds ways to express the music to a new audience. Ms.
Zucker is an exquisite performer with a long resumÚ, more
than twenty successful albums to her credit, and wonderful
technique. Thus it is with great interest that one can approach
this album. There are few virtuoso flautists with a more
adventurous spirit or a more varied collection of recordings
to their credit.
those intimately familiar with different traditions in Native
American music, there is one work of loosely Apache origin
(Canyon Echoes for flute and guitar), and another
(American Suite for flute in piano) is from Kwakiutl
tribe. The traditional melodies used are most frequently
Hopi. The pieces themselves are not actually traditional
works performed with new instrumentation. Rather they are
new compositions; some based on traditional melodies, others
creating new melodies using non-European techniques that
directly emulate sounds made by traditional flutes and flute
those less knowledgeable of the traditions, the music tends
toward Mixolydian or Lydian modes or pentatonic scales, often
with very open harmonies and an introspective quality to
the melodies. The timbres are used to paint aural pictures
or tell stories. As a result a great many timbres are employed.
At times the melody or tempo will jump unexpectedly in order
to achieve an effect of there being a new speaker or player
in the story. There are attempts in some cases to use alternate
fingerings, flutter-tonguing, glissandi, multiphonics and
harmonic fingerings to summon the haunting sounds of the
cedar flute. The result is not unfamiliar or disjointed,
but it is also distinct from European derived music.
great number of the pieces utilize solo flute with no accompaniment.
Additional instruments are added when the standard-issue
soprano flute is not totally equal to the task. Saxophones,
acoustic guitar - at times using Flamenco-derived finger-tapping
techniques - and piano are all utilized to give voice to
this both-ancient-and-modern music.
is well recorded in a large, live room that lends a more
haunting quality to the music with its warm tones and long
package insert book is quite well done, and thorough in its
description of the compositions. It tells us where the melodies
are newly composed and where they are borrowed. It gives
original instrumentations when the original instrumentation
told, this is a very good and engaging collection of works.
Anyone interested in flute music, both of European and Native
American varieties would probably enjoy this album.