Suki Rae is a difficult artist to categorize. Parts of Water and Fire find the obscure, New York-based flutist/singer/pianist embracing traditional Middle Eastern and Jewish music; other parts of this CD are essentially jazz with world music leanings. And on "Open Up Ye Gates," Rae ventures into a sort of jazzy, transcendental style of pop singing. The thing that ties a lot of this material together is a certain spirituality -- Water and Fire gives the impression that if you asked Rae what Middle Eastern and Jewish traditions have in common with the post-bop jazz of Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Yusef Lateef, Pharoah Sanders, and John Coltrane, she would have no problem articulating the parallels. Kirk, in fact, is an obvious influence on "Save Your Love for Me," although Rae is no jazz purist and shows her appreciation of electric jazz-rock as well as acoustic post-bop. Recorded in Jerusalem in 1993 and New York in 1995, Water and Fire is promising, if uneven. Instead of having live performances and studio tracks on the same CD, Rae would have done better to separate the two and try to provide a more cohesive, less erratic album. Nonetheless, the material is generally rewarding, and Rae's eclecticism is certainly admirable. With the right label and the right producer giving her the guidance and feedback she needs, Rae is quite capable of becoming better known in both jazz and world music circles.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson