Today's theme: inspiration and collaboration.
Above: "Inspiration" from 1 Giant Leap, the wonderful music/film/spoken-word project by created the UK musicians Jamie Catto (of Faithless) and Duncan Bridgeman. This intrepid pair traveled all around the world bringing musicians both famous and obscure into a pan-cultural musical collaboration, interspersed with the words of writers, philosphers, spiritual leaders and others. The results are gathered on two albums and DVDs: 1 Giant Leap and What About Me? The stirring video above, featuring African, Indian, Native American and other musicians, comes from the second DVD.
Below: "Ascending Bird" from The Silk Road Project (performed in New York City). The Silk Road Project was created by the great American cellist Yo-Yo Ma to promote collaboration among global musicians and "the study of the ebb and flow of ideas among different cultures along the Silk Road." This piece is an arrangement of an old Persian folk song recounding the myth of a bird attempting to fly to the sun. (After failing twice, on the third attempt the bird loses its physical body in the radiant embrace of the sun, a metaphor for spiritual transcendence.) Kamancheh player Kayhan Kalhorhe and the terrific New York quartet Brooklyn Rider are part of the ever-changing Silk Road Ensemble for this performance.
"Caravanserai" by the Canadian singer/songwriter and Celtic music scholar Loreena McKennitt (performed in Alhambra, Spain). This piece comes from Ancient Muse, a concept album which McKennitt describes as “musical travel writing.” For this project she went in search of the Celts’ easternmost paths and musical roots -- from the plains of Mongolia to the kingdom of King Midas and the Byzantine Empire; she then created music to be played on instruments drawn from these interlinked cultures. The song here, "Caravanserai," was inspired by rhythms and peoples encountered along the Silk Road.
And last, below:
"My Wild Heart" by Native American flute player R. Carlos Nakai, with hyper-harpist William Eaton and percussionist Will Clipman (performed at the Desert Botanical Garden in Tuscon, Arizona). Nakai, a musician and composer of Navajo/Ute heritage, creates works inspired by indiginous traditions and informed by his western classical training. He often collaborates with artists from other musical cultures -- as he does here, in a piece from the gorgeous album In a Distant Place, on which Nakai, Earon, and Clipman are joined by the Tibetan flute player and composer Nawang Khechog.