Burning Sky,
Spirits in the Wind
(Canyon, 2002)

Spirits in the Wind, nominated for a Grammy for Best Native American Album, will surprise you. Aaron White, a Navajo/Ute, plays Native American flute and acoustic guitar. Kelvin Mockingbird, a Navajo, plays Native American flute. While neither of these are surprises, their drummer may well shock you. He is none other than John Densmore of the Doors!

This is not the first time that Aaron White and John Densmore have worked together. They have jointly conducted workshops on the Navajo reservation for the young Native American musicians. So let us applaud these two fine gentlemen for their community service and efforts to promote culture and inspiration among the next generation of Native Americans!

This CD is a combination of traditional and contemporary pieces, with the bulk leaning toward contemporary. There is heavy use of rattles by both Mockingbird and Densmore. Mockingbird has the most chilling vibrato to be found in Native American flute. It is almost resounding. When Densmore moves from drums to flute, White fills in the tempo with his acoustic guitar and you will not even notice the absence of the drum.

This collection contains a wide variety of styles and tones. "Dog Soldiers" is slow and haunting with a fantastic flute duet. "Bare Root" is a relaxing, light guitar solo. "Little Wing" is a contemporary piece with a slow tempo that is ideal for slow dancing with lots of spins. It is their tribute to Jimi Hendrix. The varied trills are breathtaking. "Spirits in the Wind" and "Journey Home" are contemporary pieces with moderate tempos. "Star" is a contemporary piece with a slow tempo and light rattle. This selection is ideal for slow dancing. The walking trill is outstanding.

"Medicine Dance" is my favorite of this collection. It is a powerfully moving traditional piece with flute, drum, and rattles. You will feel compelled to get up and dance. This is straight pow-wow music at its best!

"Road Less Traveled" is a contemporary piece with heavy flute trills and rips. It has the best flute composition of the collection. There is such a wide variety of technique utilized. The ending is particularly fascinating.

"Shadow Moon" begins with a low-pitched flute solo that sets the mood as peaceful solitude in nature. A high-pitched flute joins and they execute a beautiful duet. This composition that will take you on your most intimate soul-searching journey, then carry you away into the world when the drums, rattles, and guitar eventually join. It is a solid closure for the collection and will leave you feeling well satisfied.

The jacket cover has a paragraph with each title listing that is a must read. For eclipse, it states: "The heart races and the tide rolls in. The sun and moon dance in the burning skies where the vision is eclipsed by love." This is one of the shorter ones. These are poetic expressions that pack powerful messages! We should all strive to live in accordance with "Beauty Beside Me."

I often set this CD on repeat play while I am writing. It is relaxing, inspirational and just plain beautiful! I urge you to buy a copy today and take a few journeys with these guys.

- Rambles
written by Alicia Karen Elkins
published 24 May 2003



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