Night Passage: Invocations for the Journey
(Spinning Records, 2000)

A new offering from Libana is always a treat and Night Passage is no exception. It features sixteen tracks of chants, rounds and other songs, some presented a capella and some with minimal accompaniment, often no more than a drum. The songs are gathered from traditional music the world over, so there will almost always be something that seems familiar. And because many of the pieces are rounds or chants, they are easily learned.

Libana, as a group, has been together for 20 years. In its current incarnation, the all-woman group features Lisa Bosley, Allison Coleman, Charlotte Miller, Marytha Paffrath, Susan Robbins, Linda Ugelow and Cheryl Weber. Their mission is to present women's music from many cultures. That this group is well-practiced and comfortable with one another is obvious; unless they are singing harmonies, their voices are so well-matched that it is difficult to tell that more than one person is singing.

Night Passage forms a trilogy with Libana's previous recordings, A Circle is Cast (1986) and Fire Within (1990). As with those previous CDs, the songs on Night Passage are those used in celebration of the changes and cycles of life, gentle songs of joy or meditation.

Among the songs gathered here is the Jewish traditional song "Bim Bam," presented as a duet between Coleman and Robbins, with Miller on alto recorder and Robbins on guitar. The song is cheerful, fun and likely to stick in your head. "We All Come from the Goddess" will be familiar to those who follow the Wiccan path. Written by Z Budapest, it has become a tradition in many circles. The quiet, meditative "Night Goes Back" presents a text by poet Jelaluddin Rumi.

This is a wonderful CD for quiet times of meditation on life's passages. I find myself tossing it in the CD player, even at work, to combat the noise and stress of daily living, to remind myself that there is more to life than the shrilling telephone, demanding customers and unsympathetic managers.

[ by Laurie Thayer ]

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