The Arts
CD Review: The Larry Redhouse Trio’s Spirit Progression
Wednesday, March 11 2009
Written by Jamison Mahto,
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Jamison Mahto: Reporter/Indigenous

In The News, Indigenous In Music CD Review

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Today it seems as if we’ve broken through to the other side of winter and I suit up to get in the game. It’s Superbowl Sunday and jazz is not a good bike riding music but the I-pod is loaded and I’m riding.

The Larry Redhouse Trio features Larry Redhouse on piano/keyboards, Robin Horn, son of sax/flute great Paul Horn on drums, and Mike Levy on electric and acoustic bass.

My resource consultant Steve K. (a brilliant jazz pianist in his own right) states, “it’s forward moving fusion with a merry, positive lilt”, and I’m thinking, “we’ll see.”

Larry indicated in a short interview with me that the title song’s (Spirit Progression) weather report-like sound, symbolizes several concepts – one of which is the spiritual journey that jazz improvisation represents. The other concept is the spiritual progression that we need in our lives: to not be static but to progress forward through diversity and challenge.

“The cd title Spirit Progression, to me, signifies the growth we all have to do in order to live on this earth and be somewhat serene, useful and content,” says Larry.

Keep Trying is a song about some good advice and reminiscent of some of the more pop oriented fusion that this could be classified as –easy listening– if it weren’t for the complexity of the improvisational solos. This song features an interesting bass solo. It sounds like a fretless bass playing lovely melody with various time signatures that move freely between a half dozen different modes.

Suddenly the bike riding gets easier, the flow starts to establish itself and the Minneapolis skyline, originally covered in a gray mist, starts to clear. Sunlight gifts my heart with sight, the sidewalk goes iambic pentameter, people of rhythm dart from street corner to street corner, filled with the anticipation of lives lived in desperate quietude. And the poetry of urban desolation flows like a river down Hennepin Avenue in glorious flowering colors of indigo and ultraviolet. Let there be flow. For dessert there’s neon. Damn if the ride didn’t go and get poetic on me.

Having Diné ancestry, it’s natural that Larry would compose a song called The Desert, which features a brilliantly colored drum solo and some atmospheric synthesizer work. I can see the cacti on the high desert in bloom in my head as I round the corner, roll down the ramp to River Road, go over the stone arch bridge, climb the hill to University Avenue, and head east to the U of M campus.

The song Free Play is an improvisational departure from the norm that is a painting of sonic sound-colors from a beautiful jazz palette. This is true free form, devoid of constraints of any kind. Larry and trio bend the rules a little here.

I think the title of the song Not Chick is double entendre of the highest sort like - not chic? A clever play on words and the notion of chic, combined with the notion that women are more than a cute female fowl creature. Inside the texture of the song there is a bowed, acoustic bass, several tempo changes, and the interplay of styles. There are fast, precise scales and arpeggios in Larry’s piano playing.

The song Understanding hopefully represents the spirit progression as it leads to an understanding of life, loves, and people. An understanding of self that is insightful and profound.

“My Native Spirituality cannot be separated from my piano music internally. Just as I am a Northern Traditional Dancer, the same reverence I have dancing or praying in a Sweat Lodge, carries on into my jazz music,” says Larry.

I hope a Jazz category in Native Music becomes commonplace!

Larry says his mentors emphazised the need to “find your own voice”. Now that I’ve regained my writing after many struggles and challenges, I’m well on my way to finding mine. Sounds like Larry has found his.

I learned something today. I can ride bike to any type of music, there are no boundaries, only the boundary of self. If I want to soar beyond self, I’ve got to spread my wings and fly.

For more information, see the website: .

CD review: Michael Joseph O-glepi/Songs for Native American Flute and Guitar
Thursday, December 25 2008
Written by Jamison Mahto,
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cdmusicreview.jpgOn Michael Joseph's latest CD "O-glepi" the sub-title is "Songs for Native American Flute and Guitar" but the album also includes the use of several other instruments; spare use, minimal use of special
effects – sound-bytes in the background. The sun has begun to shine and the combination of guitar and flute begins to haunt me, a romantic notion of loves gone by, of win or lose, of beauty and the beast, of flute and guitar, these sounds won't leave me alone.

The Spanish tone of the song Redrock reminds me of the Spanish origin of the guitar and I wonder then if the Spanish conquistadores brought a guitar with them. They certainly brought horses with them.
The fourth song on the CD, Traditional, plays on the little I-pod shuffle that I listen to and I am transported to a place of peace and serenity as the medicine man plays a rattle over me and prays with
such spiritual fervor that a tear wells up in my eye. The song is performed on a Traditional five-hole flute.

"O-glepi is Lakota for shadow. It is a perfect title for music that profiles the harsh, yet honorable life that the Plains peoples embraced. Even today there is no stronger example of tradition than that of the Native American people. Michael Joseph has put history to music and he has done it well."

CD Review: Blues Nation
Tuesday, August 26 2008
Written by Jamison Mahto,
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cdreview.jpgThe Blues Nation’s self-titled CD features five seasoned and experienced players that are top notch. The band consists of Dusty Miller (Comanche Tribe) on Guitar & Slide, Terry Tsotigh (Kiowa Tribe) plays Drums & Harmonica, Obie Sullivan (Muskoke Creek Tribe) on Keyboards, Sonny Klinekole (Kiowa/Comanche/ Apache Tribe) plays the Bass, and Tom Ware (Kiowa/Comanche Tribe) who rounds out a wonderful Native blues band on Guitar & Vocals.

The first trac, “What Do You Think” is a smooth, slick shuffle groove, played like they were on the stage at the Cabooze. The vocal is reminiscent of Bobby Blue Bland or BB King with a guitar that reminds me of Albert/ Freddie King. The guitar player, Dusty Miller has phrasing that is extremely lyrical and romantic. He attacks the fret board like a man possessed and then goes to a tempo change and a slow 12 bar blues progression. 

This CD begins with a blistering blues solo riff over whole note rests and is as much an homage to that page of the homegrown blues manual of righteous notation gained not through books and lessons but the learning that life has to teach. 

Indian film festival debuts with 100 works
Friday, July 11 2008
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More than 100 films were shown during the inaugural Talking Stick Film Festival, which was held June 26 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The film festival included panels and workshops with notables like actor Wes Studi, director Chris Eyre – whose supernatural thriller “Imprint” was shown during the festival – and actor Gary Farmer.

The films were largely written, directed or produced by Indians from the U.S. and Canada, with some offerings from indigenous people of Australia, New Zealand, Mexico and Samoa.

“I was surprised how much work is out there – and how much brilliant, really stunning, work is out there,” said festival director Karen Redhawk Dallett. She had envisioned finding only 20 to 30 good films for the festival.

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