Heart of The Cedar Flute Circle CD Review of the Week
overall, the music is very nice
This week, I share my views on our own flute circle member, Tony
Sawyer's, newest CD, "Were You There?", on his label, OCMAI Records.
This release is of instrumental gospel favorites, with some song
titles which you may easily recognize, and others you may not.
This work has a decidedly country flavor, and I find it has a little
"mountain music" to it, as well, although without the "bluegrass"
sound. The arrangements are quite nice, and you don't really think
about the fact the songs are gospel songs. Tony has put together a
truly different sound for the NAF, mixing in acoustic & bass guitar,
mandolin, and gourd rattle, as accompaniment, all of which Tony plays,
The flute play carries the lead on most tracks, and the accompaniment
on one track, where the guitar is the lead instrument. Three tracks
are solo flute.
In this work, Tony has improved his post production work, from earlier
efforts, and the balance of instruments and blending of the
instruments, is much improved.
There are 12 tracks, with 2 short tracks of "Doxology" (solo flute)
and "Doxology Reprise" (solo flute), accounting for Track 1, the
introduction, and Track 12, the ending of the CD, and the timing is
such that when played on auto-repeat, the ending takes you right back
into the beginning, with no more than a momentary pause in the music,
that seems to be planned. Tracks vary in length from 26 seconds, to
about 6 1/2 mins.
Remaining tracks include:
Track 2, "Precious Memories"
Track 3, "When the Roll is called up Yonder"
Track 4, "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot"
Track 5, "Were You There?" (the title track)
Track 6, "Do Lord" (solo flute)
Track 7, "Uncloudy Day"
Track 8, "Wayfaring Stranger"
Track 9, "Softly and Tenderly"
Track 10, "Will the Circle be Unbroken?"
Track 11, "Amazing Grace"
Personally, I kinda like the "mountain music" flavor of this work, but
of course, that has nothing to do with the fact that my wife and I
came to Dallas from the Great Smokey Mountains of Western North
Carolina. (smile) (Also known as "the blue wall" in Cherokee.)
The nicest thing about Tony's arrangements, on this CD, is that he has
managed to give song to the music, without it being obvious he is
playing gospel songs. You won't feel like you need to sing the hymns,
as though you were at Sunday services. (Although you might certainly
be able to do that.)
There are just a couple of minor shortcomings, in that tracks 7 &
especially 8, are recorded at a slightly lower volume level, than the
other tracks, and in one track, Tony reaches for a high note in both
of the choruses, that he can't quite get to, but overall, the music is
very nice, and there probably aren't going to be a lot of NAF CD's out
there, based entirely on gospel songs, making this one fairly unique.
Find your sound bytes here:
Look for several new releases from major artists, and at least one new
artist, in coming weeks, on this weekly feature.
October will once again be "world flutes" month, with reviews of great
flute music from other genres besides the NAF. The new release
(available July 1) from local shakuhachi master Stan Richardson, will
be featured, among other fine world flute CD's, some from single
artists, and some compilations from various artists…. covering an
assortment of world flutes.
There is also a new project being undertaken this fall, which will
offer us a truly unique NAF CD, in the future, that I am personally
very excited about, and I will be sharing more as the project moves
This job is getting to be a lot of fun, although I gotta admit the pay
isn't too great. (smile)