Keeping the Peace

R. Carlos Nakai Quartet – People of Peace
R. Carlos Nakai Quartet

People of Peace (Canyon Records CR-7069, 2004)

R. Carlos Nakai, Native American flute master, is one busy guy. He’s put out seemingly innumerable solo and collaborative recordings, showing no sign that he’s going to be changing his prolific ways soon. People of Peace is the fourth CD by the fusion-minded quartet that bears his name, and like its predecessors is an adventurous and well-crafted mix of Native, jazz, global, classical and avant garde sounds.

Nakai and his mates- bassist/vocalist Mary Redhouse, multi-instrumentalist AmoChip Dabney and percussionist Will Clipman -each bring their unique perspectives and skills to the table, resulting in an album with ample twists and turns and pleasures too.

“Wingyaa” opens the disc with brooding piano, flute and chant, foreshadowing further traditional-leaning pieces (“Kiva Smoke,” “Taos Thunder”) and making way for nuttier offerings like the murky “Gnu H20” and the Caribbean jazz romp “Club Dread.”

Dabney’s production and mixing work gives the right emphasis to key points like his own fine sax and keyboard playing, Redhouse’s wordless nature-sound vocalizations and Clipman’s varied percussion. As for Nakai, he’s still the man with regard to his trademark Native flute, but he doesn’t try to steal the show despite top billing.

People of Peace moves easily from contemplative to jamming, and the title serves as a timely reminder of what we need more of today. Music has the power to unify, and without attempting any sort of in-your-face mission statement to that effect, the Nakai quartet’s music satisfies with nary an axe to grind.

Buy People of Peace

Author: Tom Orr

Tom Orr is a California-based writer whose talent and mental stability are of an equally questionable nature. His hobbies include ignoring trends, striking dramatic poses in front of his ever-tolerant wife and watching helplessly as his kids surpass him in all desirable traits.