R. Carlos Nakai

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Reconnections Review

by Jeff Tamarkin

R. Carlos Nakai has continually explored new avenues in which to showcase his Native American flute, working both solo and within various collaborative configurations, challenging himself and contemporizing the genre along the way. He's always been eager to look beyond the obvious, and as on his other recordings, Reconnections pays respect to tradition without being bullheaded about it. Here Nakai teams up with keyboardist Cliff Sarde and guitarist William Eaton, both of whom he has worked with before. Native vocalist Randy Wood gets co-billing with those two on the CD sleeve, although he only appears on one track, "Honor Your Love." The big news, of sorts, is Nakai's prominent use of Sarde's electronic programming here. Without it becoming obtrusive, the synthesized textures flesh out the sound admirably, and Eaton's delicate string work provides much of the album's considerably inventive melodic direction. Nakai has often veered well into new age territory, and while Reconnections is no exception, this time out he's paid closer attention to giving his airy flute sounds a more substantial context than usual, resulting in an overall work that invites active listening, rather than simply filling empty spaces in the air.

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