Ron Korb,
Taming the Dragon
(Alcione, 1999)

Taming the Dragon is full of beautiful, powerful music. The melodies that Ron Korb creates paint pictures using notes for colour.

As for the musicians, Korb (bamboo flute, shinobue, silver flute, bass flute, percussion, keyboards, Misatobue and dizi) is joined by two different groups. There were Hugh Marsh (violin), Bill Evans (piano, hammond organ), Eric Terreau (keyboards), Steve Lucas (acoustic bass), Michael Uyttebroek (djembe and bass drum), Ravi Naimpally (tabla and djembe) and Rick Shadrach Lazar (timba and ambient percussion), who worked with him in the studio. For the two songs recorded live in Japan he was joined by Hiroki Sakaguchi (keyboards), Hiroyo Watanbe (piano), Akira Mori (guitar), Hiroshi Ogawa (bass), Takeshi Ishikawa (Hira Daiko) and Norikazu Ejiri (percussion).

The opening notes of "Heart of Passion" grab your spine -- the music dances along your vertebrae until the last note. From there you are shown a heart full of longing in "Isolation." There is a moment of stillness before "Warrior's Dance" kicks into gear, the drums starting and the flute sustaining the drive. "Mitra's Song" is so full of beauty and love that it takes the breath away.

"Todaiji" (one of the live tracks) is a slice of magic, with an otherworldly feel to the music. There are a series of images in "Indonesia," and I catch glimpses of them: a festival here, the streets there, all full of love. "Sentier Inconnu" has an alien feel to it as it shows you things you do not know. Some of the strangeness continues in "Yamatai" but the tune quickly welcomes you in to somewhere new.

You can see a dragon dance going down the street in "Dragon Eyes." This is contrasted by the sweeping expanse of "Tokaido," the other live track that shows you the size of the prairies. "Shadow Montage" is like nothing else on the CD, with all the happy-go-lucky energy you would ever want in a tune. The CD ends with "The Sacred Sword," a piece that whispers to your heart and shows you the beauty all around you.

Taming the Dragon is a powerful CD. Take the time to listen and enjoy the images that it paints.

- Rambles
written by Paul de Bruijn
published 21 December 2002