The Faces of Elder Wisdom
From Gnarly Roots
the faces of elder wisdom
bear a visage of know and how
and see with eyes of then and now
they hear with whispers of the wind
and the delight of bird song
the faces of elder wisdom
bare no grudges
their wrinkles are but chasms of time
facial landscapes of earth melody
and people rhyme
the faces of elder wisdom
reach out their arms
beyond the confines of them
into moments of teach
and respectful reach
the faces of elder wisdom
walk into the face of adversity
and sit among the aches of diversity
to speak with words
that charm and inspire
the faces of elder wisdom
are mirrors of you and me
as we walk the same pathways
and sit around the same shared fires
that send our thoughts and aspirations
to lofty places
so much higher
the faces of elder wisdom
teach us that
Photo: Lofa County, Liberia 1970/JK
Eclipse My Soul
The Solar Eclipse
August 21, 2017
Buena Vista, Colorado
crossing the lines and blurring the visions
as the circles recycle
from the light to the dark
and back again
ebullient to stark
an eclipse is a lunar journey
to another side of the welling up of emotions
entangling star studded mysteries
with mythic understandings
here and all around
dropping by momentarily
to deliver the word
and the messages
from other realms
in a different shine
we forever mark these movements
in the circles of our minds
and the stones that we plant
all around and in mounds
on the ground
SANTA FE CHAMBER MUSIC FESTIVAL THE SIXTEENTH SEASON
July 10-August- 22, 1988
BRAZIL..To most Americans the name conjures up the sultry samba nights of Carnaval, the serpentine Amazon, a pastiche of cultural meanderings and immense geographical embrace. From batucada to bossa nova, Brazilian music chronicles such a vast expanse that it defies generic description. A listing of important musical contributors is a veritable litany of Brazilian "patron saints" of music.
There are, though, many similarities between the development of contemporary music in Brazil and America, most notably, a similarity in progression, if not in style. In both countries there is a large body of indigenous music; both incorporate African and European elements; each influenced the other; and, presently, their contemporary stylings draw on all these historical contributions and carry them uniquely into their idiosyncratic futures.
Perhaps the greatest difference in the developments of American and Brazilian music has been in the degree of historic cultural assimilation. While America isolated its indigenous and African people, Brazil, for the most part incorporated them and, therefore their music. For example, on many Ameri can plantations Africans were forbidden to recreate their traditional instruments. So it was their vocal music that was carried into gospel, blues and jazz styles. Typical West African instruments such as the six-stringed dosongoni virtually disappeared, although the dosongoni later reemerged in another form, the banjo. In Brazil, on the other hand, many of the traditional instruments remained intact and even tually became important aspects of contemporary music. The one-stringed berimbau with its roots in Angola is an extant example.
The contribution of Europe to Brazilian music is clearly more singular than in America with its "melt ing pot" tradition. The Portuguese influence is certainly the most dominant European influence on Brazilian music but, of course, not the only one. Italian "salon'' music was popular in the early 19th century. Spanish and, consequently, North African styles also affected the maturation of Brazilian music. Later still came the tango from Argentina and a multitude of Cuban styles, the latter being recurrent at several stages. Indeed, the connections among the northern Americas, Brazil, Europe and Africa have remained a constant musical factor to this day.
To describe contemporary Brazilian music is a complicated task. A simplistic attempt, though, would say that its recent reemergence on practically every continent justifiably qualifies it as one of the most dynamic and eclectic musical contributions of this decade.
Two forms of popular Brazilian music familiar to many Americans are the samba and bossa nova. While there are numerous interpretations of samba, all are intrinsically rooted in polyrhythm and polyphony: That is to say, over-lapping drumming and vocal, call-and-response, techniques. Anyone who has seen the classic film Black Orpheus can attest to the forcefulness of this style. But samba is not just a percussive music. The Bahia samba, for example, incorporates tambourine, guitar, rattles and sometimes even castanets and berimbau. This, in some respects, explains its acceptance into the American jazz idiom. American jazz musicians also assisted in cross-referencing bossa nova. In 1947, band leader Stan Kenton unleashed a new band that featured Brazilian guitarist Laurindo Almeida who later formed an association with American saxophonist Stan Getz and the rest is America bossa nova history.
These are only two of a myriad of Brazilian styles. Some of the others are less well known to Americans but are household terms among Brazilians. One is the choro. Though not stylistically similar to jazz, its instrumentation can be compared to that of jazz. Originally the choro applied to the band itself but later it also referred to the music. It appears to have derived from the military or march-like music of German and French military orchestras of the late 19th century. Choro blossomed a few years later in the form of impassioned polkas in Rio de Janeiro. A typical choro group includes percussion and stringed instruments and fronts a woodwind ensemble of some nature flute, clarinet and saxophone are most typical. However, the choro lacks the brass instrumentation of its nearest American counterpart, New Orleans jazz.
Maxixe is another typical Brazilian musical style. Like the choro, it had its inception in the late 19th century but reached an initial peak as a popular urban dance during World War I also in Rio de Janeiro. The choro was both a concert and dance style but maxixe developed exclusively on the dance floors, perhaps as a necessary populist extension of the choro.
Frevo is another somewhat similar style, although it apparently developed in a different location: Recife. It, too, grew from the need to accommodate concert
- or chamber music, if you will - to the dancehall. Driven by a similar marching pulse, it included, unlike the choro, a variety of brass instruments.
There is also a style of "country'' music known as baiao which is associated with Brazil's northeastern region. Baiads meter came from country guitar rhythms and its instrumentation included and popularized the accordion.
The list goes on the length of the Amazon itself :
waltz, lundu, coco, batuque, jingo, tango, foro, xaxado and a plethora of others. Perhaps the safest way to journey through the maze of Brazilian musical styles
is to say that if it can be heard, it is played.
But finally, some mention must be made of the personalities who have guided and created the evolu tionary, and often revolutionary, moments of music in Brazil, particularly the composers, since their music is once again being rediscovered and revitalized. Heitor Villa-Lobos is unquestionably the most renowned composer of the nascent modern era. Of the modern ists, the nods probably go to Alfredo da Rocha Vianna Junior, (known colloquially as Pixinguinha) of Rio de Janeiro, and Radames Gnattali, whom many consider the "father of bossa nova;' among other titles.
Pixinguinha, as a band leader, adapted the first sambas and carnaval marches to large orchestration but it was Gnattali who linked Pixinguinha to both European classical styles and more contemporary, innovative and adventurous efforts.
There are also a number of Brazilian pop luminaries on the rise including Milton Nascimento, Djavan, Martino Davila, Maria Bethania and Gal Costa, to name a scant few. Roots-oriented groups such as Uakti are also making their presence felt. Uakti recently toured with the American vocal group Manhattan Transfer.
There are few popular Brazilian groups, however, that exhibit the depth, maturity and cultural understanding displayed by Joel Nascimento and the Brazilian Sextet. Joel Nascimento began his musical career as a pianist but exchanged it for the mandolin, or bandolim, in 1969. He is now considered a master of this instrument in Brazil.
Nascimento was the founder of the much-heralded group, Camerata Carioca which, with a couple of exceptions, became The Brazilian Sextet. Through the years their mentor has been Radames Gnattali who, among other notable accomplishments, transcribed music of Vivaldi and Bach specifically for this group. Gnattali's compositions and arrangements for Camerata and now The Brazilian Sextet have extended the group's repertoire from the traditional choro into other forms of classical and contemporary music often ignored by other modern musicians, Brazilian or otherwise.
Joel Nascimento best describes the process when he says that "the group stands out in Brazil because of its instrumental concept adapted to the chamber format, its use of harmony, the type of repertoire, the arrange ments, the approximation to the great masters... and the group's overall musical understanding that reflects the whole purity and beauty of the traditional forms constantly in evolution'.'
When pressed for a musical choice, Joel Nascimento ironically chooses the works of Chopin, which he says involve him emotionally and reminds him of his love
of the piano.
The Muse in Sacred Places
How many times have we looked at pictures of the Great Pyramid, Stonehenge, the Taj Mahal or Teotihuacán and marveled at the architecture and the ingenious design of these timeless places? Wondering just who built them and how; amazed at their longevity and the sacredness of their shapes. As I was recently reading geologist Robert Schoch’s 2005 book, Pyramid Quest (Robert M. Schoch, Ph.D., Tarcher/Penguin, 2005), especially the chapter, “The Shape of the Sacred”, I kept thinking about music. Certainly there must have been music associated with these places.
Rereading American flute player Paul Horn’s insightful book Inside Paul Horn (Paul Horn w/ Lee Underwood, Harper/Collins, 1990), a book in part about playing music inside the Great Pyramid and the Taj Mahal, got me to thinking about music not only inside sacred places but also music from that place and even about that place. Does this music have a certain tone or vibe about it? As I found out after listening again to some very extraordinary music, the answer was yes. There is a certain feeling to music about sacred places. There is a feeling of reflection and introspection for sure. But more importantly there is a profound sense of deep mystery.
The recordings of Paul Horn are especially insightful as they were actually recorded inside two very special places, The Great Pyramid and the Taj Mahal. Just getting to and then inside of these structures was an adventure in and of itself, let alone actually setting up, playing and recording music inside them. I also became fascinated again with the recordings of reed player Rusty Crutcher whose recordings from The Sacred Sites Series includes music recorded at Serpent Mound, Ohio; Chaco Canyon, New Mexico; Machu Picchu, Bolivia; Baja, Mexico; the Amazon Basin in Peru and Baja, Mexico. And then, I thought long and hard about the role of water and rivers in sacred mythology and theology and ended up back at the Nile. The recordings of The Musicians of the Nile stand out as unique recordings of music from a special place. And finally, perhaps befitting our contemporary times, we end up in a house of worhsip. Houses of worship are obviously considered sacred places and music has been an integral part of their function for eons but the manner in which sax player Barbara Thompson recorded traditional church and folk songs in the Abbey du Thoronet in Provence, France in 1990 remains for me both mirthful and mythical.
Just what is a sacred place? Do they have to be ancient, like the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World? And how do they differ from common places that might also be special? Simply put, the profane or common place is created for some expressly functional reason. While the sacred place might also have a utilitarian purpose, its primary intention is its relation to the sacredness of the cosmos, a momentary but also eternal cognizant glimpse into the unknown.
The famous Taj Mahal, located in Agra, India, offers the uniqueness of being both profane and sacred. Commissioned by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in 1632 as a mausoleum for his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, stands as a testament to the splendor of Mughal architecture. It was completed in 1648 and combines elements of Persian, Turkish, Indian and Islamic design styles and detail. This striking architectural accomplishment is profane in that it was the final resting place of a supposedly beautiful woman but sacred in that it also established a special relationship to that mysterious aspect of the cosmos called love.
New York-born musician Paul Horn began his career as a classical musician, took a turn as a bourgeoning jazz player in the 50s and 60s, most notably with the Chico Hamilton group. He won two Grammy awards for his “Jazz Suite on the Mass Texts” in 1965 but it was his journey to India in 1967 that led him down the path of performing music in special environments. This spiritual journey was in part engendered by his study of Transcendental Meditation with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi but also by his love of the sound of the flute embellished and sanctified by the celestial sound properties of sacred places. At last, on April 25, 1968 he had the opportunity to record solo Inside The Taj Mahal (Epic BXN-26466/1969). He sums up the cosmic experience of the merging of place and sound in his personal liner notes: “The majesty of the place staggers the imagination and the hushed atmosphere throughout the grounds makes the soul begin to glow deep within”.
The first Paul Horn recording inside the Taj Mahal was fairly serendipitous and included several vocal pieces sung by the Taj Mahal guard and a singer friend. To almost everyone’s surprise, the recording was commercially successful and a seminal recording in the emerging New Age genre. In fact, it was the beginning of the most important part of Paul Horn’s career as an “environmental” musician and later earned him the title, among many music critics, as the founder of New Age music, a moniker that he did not set out to earn.
The impromptu nature of the first recording was mostly Horn’s learning about the sound properties and qualities of one of the planet’s most intricate and beautifully designed structures. It was a learning experience with echo and resonance and vibration. But it was the second Inside II recording in 1972 (Epic WKE-31600/1972) that taught him how to play with the unique design details of the Taj Mahal and you begin, as a listener, to not only hear but see through sounds, the domes, kiosks, minarets and golden spires. It is that ability to see and hear these symmetrical motifs and floral designs that makes these recordings so amazing and timely and earned Paul Horn a very special place among contemporary musicians.
But he was just warming up. The best was yet to come. Paul Horn was about to go Inside the Great Pyramid (Mushroom MRS-5507). The Great Pyramid of Khufu is the extant edifice of the Eight Great Wonders of the Ancient World and without a doubt the most awe-inspiring and mysterious structure on the planet. The idea for playing inside the Great Pyramid was planted in Horn’s musical head in 1975 by the same friend who had helped him make a success of Inside the Taj Mahal but the path to get there was no mean feat. Political tensions in the Middle East and the security that surrounded the monuments on the Giza plateau took him almost two years before he was able to realize this dream.
The Great Pyramid of Khufu is perhaps the most complicated enigma on earth. How would one go about reconciling contemporary music with such an ancient puzzle? Schoch suggests that there are basically two takes on the Great Pyramid. The standard “Egyptologist” point of view is that it was built by Pharaoh Khufu as his tomb. The “other” take is that it was something else, still universally undecided to this day, a
mystery of truly immense proportions. Maybe it was the Ark of the Covenant or maybe it was pi. Whatever it was, it is hard to hear associated musical forms although Schoch writes briefly about the possibility of the Great Pyramid as having been a “resonating device” or musical instrument....a voice of the higher spirits. This same idea has also
been attributed to the conical tower in the Temple of the ruins of Great Zimbabwe.
None of this went unnoticed to Paul Horn from the first moment he learned that Lord Krishna was portrayed as a flute player. Flute players as the “voice” of the sacred appear in legend and lore throughout the world. And so Paul Horn ventured into the greatest musical instrument in the world and created yet another inside/out masterpiece.
Listening to this recording again after several years seemed different than earlier listens. The alto flute, “C” flute and piccolo sing more as adepts than instruments. Because of the resonance qualities of the various chambers in the pyramid, the sounds echo more as confinement than longevity. The sacredness of the music is always magically thrust back into the heart from which it came. Inside the Great Pyramid, Horn was able to create a sweetness of sacred, lilting, sanguine notes, at once both universal and contemplative; notes that find a melting point somewhere between the diaphragm and the third eye. You know you have arrived somewhere special, a world balanced between creation and chaos... maybe the true function of the Great Pyramid.
Paul Horn went on to other inside jobs recording in China, Findhorn, Russia and even in the Palm Beach Casino in Cannes. A decade later another young jazz player followed in his musical footsteps. Rusty Crutcher achieved early success as a jazz and r&b studio musician in LA. But it was when he arrived in Santa Fe in the mid-80s and steeped his soul in that inspiring landscape, just as the so-called New Age music movement was reaching an initial peak, that he found his true path as a player.
Like Horn, Crutcher realized that there were unique musical possibilities that awaited him at various sacred sites around the world and he launched The Sacred Sites Series in
1986. What is most significant about the first recording in this series, Machu Picchu Impressions (Emerald Green Sound Productions), is that it was digitally recorded during the Harmonic Convergence, August 16-17, 1987 at Machu Picchu. He recorded this masterpiece with a group of Quechua Indian flute players and it stands out as a tribute to both the reverence and reverberance of a special place and time.
Crutcher’s second recording in this series was Chaco Canyon (Emerald Green Sound Productions), a musical homage to the traditional and ancient home of the legendary New Mexico Anasazi and the only mid-day solstice marker in North America. I described this recording at that time in the Santa Fe Reporter as follows: “Chaco Canyon is a musically engaging recollection, a thought provoking poke at the back of the historic mind, an ambient nudge along the path of the future, all moving in the company of animal friends and natural elements. Initial recording sessions were done primarily on solstices and equinoxes. At a time when new ideas, or more correctly, rediscovered ideas, in music have become trendy and ephemeral, it is important that real new era musing be conceived and integrated in proper perspective. Rusty Crutcher does this without pretension.”
My personal favorite in the series though is Serpent Mound (Emerald Green Sound Productions EG 8500.2). Serpent Mound, located in Adams County in southern Ohio, is one of the great sacred treasures of North America. Having grown up in southern Ohio, I visited Serpent Mound many times and was always most surprised by the fact that, despite its size (1330 feet long and 3 feet high, making it the largest effigy mound in the world), you don’t notice it until you are literally right on it. No one is sure why, or for that matter when, it was constructed, although scientific research dates it to approximately 1070 A.D. But it seems to convey a message that sometimes we don’t know what the mystery is all about until we become a part of it. Or as Crutcher states in
the liner notes that we need “to reconsider our own relationship to the planet we live on”. A 1330 foot long snake in the grass down in Ohio has a way of doing that and Crutcher catches the aural significance of this sacred serpent with ambient recorded sounds wrapped around flute, vocalizations and melodic piano phrasings.
Just as animals, both real and mythical, have etched their markings on the sacred landscapes of the planet, so have natural features like rivers, lakes, valley and mountains.
Of all the great rivers in the world, none conjures up the majesty and antiquity that the Nile River does. Flowing from the very soul of antiquity to the steps of modernity, the Nile inspires images of pyramids, oases, floods and romance. The Musicians of the Nile are essentially a trio of formidable players of traditional Arabic instruments from the Mataqil clan of Upper Egypt first discovered at the Festival of Chateaufallon in 1975. A number of the performances of that event are captured on the CD Egypte: Les Musiciens du Nil (OcoraC559006). They have several Peter Gabriel recordings as part of the Realworld Womad series that propelled their music into international prominence (Luxor to Isna/Realworld 91316-2 and Charcoal Gypsies/Realworld Carol 2366-2) Both raw and sophisticated, The Musicians of the Nile journey us though the mundane and glorious opportunities of this immense river. From the columns of Luxor, past a palm tree oasis, through the mysteries and pleasures of dancing and into the heart of romance, these splendid musicians and their virtuoso playing of ancient instruments guide us from an antiquity that we barely remember into a future built from this forgetfulness based on the hope that our knowledge of the past can be rekindled.
And we close our sojourn into sacred places with British saxophonist Barbara Thompson’s exquisite rendering of a collection of international folk songs recorded in the Abbey du Thoronet in Provence, France in 1990 appropriately entitled Songs from the Center of the Earth. Built in Medieval times, the ancient Abbey, part of a monastery for Cistercian monks, proves to be a formidable setting for songs that as she says “lie dormant at the center of us until recognition is triggered by experience”. Folk songs, while often profane in their delivery, frequently hide some other yearning or aspiration within their context. Thompson’s interpretation of the Bahamanian spiritual of African origin, “I Can’t Stay in Egypt Lan’”, aided by the alcove bendings of her saxophone notes, conveys both protest and yearning for another time when freedom was sacred and clearly in the air.
So the next time you head for that place sacred to your own heart and soul, don’t forget your flute or harmonica or simply your voice. Someone may well hear you and your moment in antiquity, millennia from now.
Jack Kolkmeyer is an urban/regional planner, teacher, writer and broadcaster living in
comprehending the magnitude of megalithic structures
and the depth of piling cultures one upon another
for the embrace of the gods and goddesses
of lost eras
shrouded in hidden hopes and dreams
remains an unlodged mystery of geometric entanglements
still the answer is the same
as one culture builds upon the ashlars of another
and an old deity bends into a new faith
rising from the fire and ashes
of ancient internments sparking embers
of twisted tongues
for which the meaning is obscured
or now simply made up
to fit the new hopes of present punctures
into the vellum of then
so in reality
what we adore in the simple celebration of time
torqueing tortuously from one permutation to the next
are more than just primeval mounds of passing
but are culturally significant circular chapters
in the many layered stories of our fore bearings
it makes sense to assume that somewhere
resting maternally covered in reverence
is the mother lode of all
waiting patiently to bear the womb mates
to help us raise anew another lithic hope
as watchers and architects of understanding
the blurred visions
etched into the corner stones of time
we appear to go back and then forward
as the winds of change divert us
from place to place
until we rest again in the cradle of antiquity
under the symbols rising from the rubble
of the foundations of ruin
that once themselves were sprinkled with
the stones that fell
From Gnarly Roots Jack Kolkmeyer
We from Lemuria have come for you
Long forgotten Ademic Race
dumbed down for Ions
WE all forgot our way
at the end of the day
A tune of remembering
beyond race, gender, and genre
you know your kin
Yes, these days
where time and space crunch
under the ever growing awareness
of our situation.
So we are back for you
free will dictates we do no more
our hearts can tear daily
at the sight of it
Many of us have run to the hills
many dance to move the pain
for our cousins who remain asleep
In the final hour
we could not leave you behind
those remaining are necessary
We are in the final hour.
It is time to awaken.
by Kestrel Andrus, in appreciation of musicians of heart the world over.
Happy New Year from Fifthwall Radio! We would like to thank all of our fabulous listeners and fans for supporting our unique, internet radio adventure. As those of you who listen already know, we play an amazing array of cool music and mix that music in a manner that you won’t hear anywhere else in the world. From Afoxe to Zulu Jive, with lots of stops in between, our effort is to musically entwine the past, the present and the future.
This year, we are planning a number of new additions including, more artist information and short “infoviews” from them about their music. The ones that we ran during this past year were very successful for both the artists and our intentions. We will also be including more spoken word pieces of our own and from like-minded and expansive writers. We will continue to include more ‘humorous” pieces to lighten the load. And last, but certainly not least, we will be venturing into more new and different DJ mixes to literally rock your world. And, of course, our unyielding love of and support of “local music”, from wherever that may arise!!
Our ID continues to be “The Music Beyond Genre” and we will continue in that vein.
We love you and thank you for your support and interest in “The Music”!!
The creators of Fifthwall Radio,
Kestrel, Nic, Jack and Jeff