Like many forms of world music, Native American music has both its traditionalists and its innovators. The innovators are coming up with interesting Native American/worldbeat hybrids; they are forward thinkers who combine Native American elements with rock, funk, pop, dance music, or even hip-hop, and they might use a synthesizer or electric guitar alongside traditional Native American flutes and percussion (just as some Arabic pop artists will use a synthesizer or electric guitar alongside an oud). Meanwhile, the Native American traditionalists do things the old-fashioned way and don't incorporate non-Native American influences. Northern Cheyenne Flute is an enriching example of traditional Native American music --specifically, Native American music with a Northern Cheyenne orientation. Joseph Fire Crow is a member of the Northern Cheyenne tribe, and his main instrument is the flute (although he plays shakers and Native American drums as secondary instruments). Fire Crow also provides some wordless vocal chants, although this CD (which was recorded in Bismarck, ND) is mostly instrumental. There is no rock, funk, or hip-hop influence on Northern Cheyenne Flute; Fire Crow's approach is strictly traditional, and he plays his flute with a great deal of feeling and emotion. His performances, in fact, are as haunting they are spiritual. Like a lot of traditional spiritual world music -- Hindu music from India, Buddhist music from China, among other things -- Northern Cheyenne Flute has a very hypnotic quality. In Native American culture, innovators and traditionalists both have their place (just as jazz should be able to accommodate everything from fusion to Dixieland). Northern Cheyenne Flute isn't cutting-edge, but it's certainly captivating.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson