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World Music CD Reviews World Fusion

Various Artists

By Phil Freeman
Published January 16, 2008

Healing The Divide: A Concert For Peace And Reconciliation

Healing The Divide, a nonprofit organization founded by Richard Gere, staged this benefit concert at New York’s Avery Fisher Hall in 2003. Various performers from multiple traditions appear, including the Gyuto Tantric Choir rumbling and groaning, Anoushka Shankar offering an 11-minute sitar/tabla duo, Nawang Khechong and R. Carlos Nakai chanting together, and a synth/kora duo by Philip Glass and Foday Musa Suso. But the primary attraction is Tom Waits, who performs four songs accompanied by bassist Greg Cohen and the Kronos Quartet. Culled from a 50-minute set, the quartet of tracks—“Way Down In The Hole,” “God’s Away On Business,” “Lost In The Harbor” and the previously unreleased “Diamond In Your Mind”—offer takes on questions of spirituality, from raw Christian faith to something like embittered atheism to a final call for mere optimism. All the music here is worth hearing once, but Waits’s songs are the only real keepers.