Kevin Lewis

Navajo Peyote Songs, Vol. 1

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The entire recorded output of Navajo/Cherokee medicine man Kevin Lewis is exemplary -- not the type of music where a listener will be nitpicking about moments of weakness or, above all, ever detecting any lack of serious commitment. Lewis has set out to record generous documentation of both Navajo and Cherokee music, of which this recording is the first volume in the Navajo Peyote Songs series. Herschell Kailaity provides the cosmic peyote beat on drum and gourds, usually keeping a simultaneously rushed and steady pattern on the former while creating a rich and wet, stream-like movement of sound with the rattle of seeds. A jazz listener can certainly enjoy the relation between this playing and the drumming of masters such as Sunny Murray or Milford Graves. In combination with the charming voice of Lewis, never overly forceful or belaboring of phrase, it is a music that springs to life instantly. The performances on this volume are more stretched out than on the suite-like follow-up volume. A particularly enjoyable track that certainly lends itself to holiday occasions is the "Happy Birthday" variation which opens side two. The English translations provided by Lewis are very helpful in contemplating the nature of each song, although the experience of listening without this information is also exciting.

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time
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