Black Eagle

Vol. 1: Jemez Pueblo, NM

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Listeners who want to experience a particularly rip-roaring ride through the powwow world should head for this release. Producer Millard Clark, a drummer himself, has produced several records of solo drumming and really seems to know how to get a good sound out of the instrument. Of course, there should be credit awarded to Jim Pierson, who recorded and mixed. In truth a reviewer can only speculate on whose individual decision might have led to the prominence of the drum, which is played with a rhythmic accuracy that is beyond impressive, more on the level of inspiring. When it comes to any kind of large bass drum, parade drum, or powwow drum in all these varying styles of music, there is a philosophy about producing a certain type of tone and it is very important that this tone has a sense of pitch. Are Manuel Yepa and Kendrick Casiquito the drummers, since they are shown kneeling against the instrument in the band photograph? Whoever it is hitting the drum creates the powwow equivalent of a walking bass drum, more of a dancing feeling, with a pleasingly contrasting selection of beats and variations. Listeners may want to conduct a few tests to make sure their woofers are up to this. To save the best for last, though, there are also the singing and the songs -- both wonderful. This is hearty, energetic vocalizing full of the essence of life. The songs are originals by members of the group, and although a listener with only a few drops of Cherokee blood might not understand the lyrics, the English titles speak loud and clear -- for example, "Eagle Is Dancing Beautifully and It Sounds Beautiful."

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