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World Music CD Reviews North American

R. CARLOS NAKAI/ AMOCHIP DABNEY

By Sule Greg Wilson
Published March 3, 2006

Edge of the Century
Canyon

In this, his umpteenth release on Canyon Records, Native flutist R. Carlos Nakai finally clicks in, melding his extended melodies with a contemporary ensemble. "Edge Of The Century," a collaboration with multi-instrumentalist Amo Chip Dabney, is mellow, as you'd expect from Nakai—it flows seamlessly from song to song—but there's depth of quotation here: shades of Weather Report and Miles impinge beyond the cedar walls. Over storm sounds come metallic keyboards and bent flute notes in the opener, "American Mystery": suddenly, subtly, there's order in it, and we've got a repeating run of notes that Nakai stands upon to view the aural landscape. "Spirit Sharing" pulls in panpipe sounds, alluding to both Central African and Meso-American traditions. Dabney's throaty Shorter and Stitt-inspired sax work is a perfect counterpoint to the lofty sounds of Nakai. On the title cut, which closes the album, Nakai goes back to his original axe, the trumpet.