Gary Stroutsos

Echoes of Canyon de Chelly

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The atmospheric new age flutist is a purist in the sense that he favors recording his regional concept projects in the places he "paints" his meditative, impressionistic music. Here, he makes sure his listeners are flute enthusiasts, daring to go 50 whole minutes conveying different moods, emotions, and Southwest locations with only his flute and that of Navajo artist and flutemaker Paul Thompson. There are some echo parts done by other flutists as well. The disc is best enjoyed while reading the extensively illustrated booklet, which includes a brief history of the Navajos in the Canyon de Chelly region, a musical travelogue essay by Stroutsos, explanations of each tune's inspiration, and beautiful photos. The 17 tracks are arranged in four movements named after the places where they were recorded: Ledge Ruin, White House Ruin, Cottonwoods at Canyon del Muerto (improvisations by Stroutsos and Thompson), and Return to Ledge Ruin. To those who love this kind of music, it's something to treasure, a very rich musical landscape. For those uninitiated, it's too stark a production to make good driving music and can become somewhat repetitive without any driving rhythms. There's no question, however, that it's an ambitious labor of love.

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