Peter Kater creates a new Native Fusion project with Sacred Earth–Wind of the East
(Hear an Audio version of this blog with music)
On a new project called Sacred Earth, pianist Peter Kater expands his reputation as one of the leading purveyors of Native American fusion. With Sacred Earth, he’s created four albums from four compass points, each featuring different Native musicians including Rita Coolidge, Bill Miller and Kevin Locke. The latest and third in the series is called Wind of the East and on that CD, Kater collaborates with Cheyenne flute player Joseph Fire Crow and Paiute violinist Arvel Bird.
Wind of the East oscillates between spacious, contemplative themes like “The Greeting” to more rhythmically driven, instrumentally ornate works like “Sunrise.” Echoes of Kater’s Natives, his pioneering CD of duets with Native flute player R. Carlos Nakai, are heard in an intimate duet with Fire Crow on “Seeds and Ceremony.” But this collaboration has more of an ensemble feel than his chamber music designs with Nakai.
Arvel Bird’s violin has a warm melodic tone and lyrical sound that whirls through Kater’s arrangements. While there’s little intrinsically “native” in the violin, Joseph Fire Crow is a student of traditional flute songs who nevertheless plays freely within this music, creating soulful melodies and bird-like calls. I love the way the flute and violin lines interweave. On “The Eagle’s Story,” Bird’s short, arcing violin sounds like a call out to Fire Crow, whose flute emerges out of the violin echo at the beginning. It’s one of the more energized tunes on the album, with melodies that spin between the two native musicians and guitarist Mike Hamilton, the unsung hero of this recording. His rhythm comping and finger-picked interplay tie many of these tracks together.
Wind of the South is still waiting to waft in, but in the meantime, Wind of the East blows a gentle, intricately detailed breeze through the native landscape and it’s our Echoes CD of the Month for July.
We’ll be featuring it on Echoes on July 7. You can hear an audio version of this review with music here. And definitely put July 22 in your datebook. That’s when we run an Echoes Living Room Concert with Sacred Earth, recorded in Peter Kater’s living room.