William Eaton Ensemble,
Sparks & Embers
(Canyon, 2004)

Sparks & Embers is the ultimate in concept albums. The idea was developed by Jack Miller, a 50-year veteran of the music business. William Eaton and his ensemble took up residence in Miller's studio at Canyon Records and began to play. Over the course of the next several days, the quintet not only played music together, but learned to listen to each other. The result is a musical conversation that became the two-CD set of Sparks & Embers with more than two hours of music.

In an age where overdubbing and mechanical engineering of music is the norm, Sparks & Embers is a stripped-down album of five talented musicians and their instruments. No music was written ahead of time; this is the spontaneous result of accomplished musicians playing together, interacting and reacting to each other. This is the type of album any musician who enjoys sitting in on a jam session would love.

Sparks & Embers is an example of world music in its truest form; five musicians from Arizona including a Navajo play a variety of instruments from around the world, including the lyraharp guitar, 26-string guitar and spiral clef, plus flutes, pan pipes, mandolin, violin, violira, bass and ethnic percussion.

William Eaton and his ensemble invite you to listen in on their musical conversation -- and listen carefully, because there just might be something there you will recognize.

by Sherrill Fulghum
11 February 2006

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