Tag: Jazz Fusion

Native American Flute ~ Jazz Instrument?

Most don’t think of jazz music when someone mentions the Native American flute. The instrument is best known for a sound that’s usually described as ethereal, spiritual, haunting — the traditional allure of the native flute. But tradition is being upended, and artists around the world are blending the Native American flute into a variety of genres, including jazz fusion. As the new album Within the Mystic from musician and author C.S. Fuqua attests, the native flute is gradually becoming known as an instrument for all genres. 

Fuqua’s first six albums, WindPoem ~ Native American Flute Meditations I-VI, celebrate the traditional sound of the native flute. On his seventh album, Different Direction, Fuqua began an exploration of the flute’s range, incorporating it into music that combines influences from bluegrass, rock, jazz, and traditional music to create a genre best described as world fusion. Within the Mystic continues to expand the flute’s range, drawing on an eclectic blend of styles and genres to create a sound that is as familiar as it is unique.

Musicians and composers worldwide are increasingly exploring the native flute as far more than an instrument of traditional music. Performers such as Jonny Lipford, R. Carlos Nakai, and the jazz band The Rippingtons have incorporated the flute’s haunting melodies into jazz, rock, blues, and classical compositions. Nakai, while best known for his traditional native flute work, was one of the first innovators of the native flute, collaborating with numerous musicians and composers in a variety of genres. Yet, despite the efforts of these artists, the native flute remains stereotyped.

Fuqua’s Within the Mystic contains twelve cuts of world jazz, with native flute featured as primary instrument in most of the songs. As more artists produce albums featuring the native flute in various genres, the instrument will continue to expand its range and popularity, securing a deserved presence in bands of all genres, creating a multi-cultural celebration for the ears.

Within the Mystic is available for streaming and/or purchase from most major music platforms, including Pandora, Deezer, Amazon.com, iTunes, and Fuqua’s music website http://csfuqua.bandcamp.com where the album can be previewed in its entirety.

Fuqua has researched and published extensively on the history, mythology, and crafting of the Native American flute. He’s the author of the acclaimed A Comprehensive Guide ~ The Native American Flute ~ History & Craft. He released the first WindPoem album in 2014. His WindPoem ~ Infinite album was a finalist in the 2019 New Mexico Music Awards. He is available for presentations on the history and craft of the Native American flute. For more information, please contact him at fuqua.cs@gmail.com or visit http://csfuqua.com and http://csfuqua.bandcamp.com.

New Album Takes Native Flute in Different Direction

Mention the Native American flute, and the first thing that comes to mind is a beautifully carved piece of artwork that produces soulful sounds. No screaming guitars. No banjos. No brass section. Just that single instrument and its haunting melody that serves as soundtrack to countless Youtube meditation videos. 

But the native flute is far more than that.

Las Cruces-based musician C.S. Fuqua’s first six WindPoem ~ Native American Flute Meditations albums fully celebrate the traditional sounds of the native flute, but Fuqua’s native flute music has taken a new turn in his seventh album, Different Direction, blending the flute’s soulful, meditative traditions into diverse compositions of world music influenced by bluegrass, rock, and jazz that combine into a refreshing sound that is at once both familiar and yet new. 

Fuqua is not the first to broaden the native flute’s range and use in music. The Rippingtons jazz group featured Robert Tree Cody on two cuts on their 1999 album Topaz. Twenty-one years later, that album remains one of the group’s most popular.

Classically-trained musician R. Carlos Nakai is best known for his traditional native flute work, but he has also broadened the flute’s use in other music genres, collaborating with guitarist William Eaton on new age productions, composers James DeMars and Phillip Glass on classical compositions, the Japanese group the Wind Travelin’ Band, and Tibetan flautist and vocalist Nawang Khechog. Yet, despite these beautiful excursions into other genres, the music that sustains Nakai’s popularity, and that of most native flute musicians, remains rooted in the traditional Native American sound.

Not only is the native flute’s use so grounded in traditional sound, it’s also still fighting the invented belief that it’s a male-only instrument, a false narrative created by European invaders whose sole purpose was to romanticize aspects of native life, even though the flute was played and enjoyed by both genders and all ages. Times are changing, though, thanks to award-winning flautists like Mary Youngblood who have blazed a path of acceptance and expansion that others now follow.

Fuqua’s Different Direction contains twelve world jazz cuts, with native flute featured as primary instrument in more than half of the instrumentals. As more artists produce albums featuring the native flute in modern music, the instrument will continue to expand its range, securing its deserved place in bands of all genres, holding its own with the loudest guitars and most strident brass sections to create a multi-cultural celebration for the ears.

Fuqua’s Different Direction is available for streaming and/or purchase on most major music platforms, including Pandora, Deezer, Amazon, iTunes, and Fuqua’s Bandcamp music website.

Fuqua has researched and published extensively on the history, mythology, and crafting of the Native American flute, including A Comprehensive Guide ~ The Native American Flute ~ History & Craft. His first WindPoem album was released in 2014.

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