Music Review: Ritual
Peter Kater and R. Carlos Nakai
Rituals are about presence, intention, and creating sacred space. Rituals also are brought to life through a process of play and direct participation. The latest musical collaboration between Native American flutist R. Carlos Nakai and composer/pianist Peter Kater fully embodies these qualities and is aptly titled Ritual. The liner notes point out, “This recording is completely improvised through the grace of being present, listening, and responding wholeheartedly from within the void . . . the womb of all creativity.”
Their first recording together in 10 years, Ritual is well worth the wait. And Nakai and Kater are joined by Paul McCandless on saxophone, ethereal vocalist Trisha Bowden, and cellist Jaques Morelenbaum. The overall effect is deeply satisfying, emotionally moving, and beautifully dynamic.
“Meeting at Twilight” opens the 62-minute album with clarity and purpose, moving from the light swirling of flutes and piano chords into a grounded, passionate theme. “Standing as One” features a plateau of delicate cello and piano upon which settles sweet, floating vocals that breathe movement and expectation. Together the tones glide as one, like a hawk soaring above a desert valley. Jazz elements enter the spectrum on “Invoking the Elements,” including melancholic piano chords and sweet, lilting saxophone. Kater’s piano and Nakai’s flutes converse in a place that transcends time and space.
Two tracks on Ritual, “Space Within” and “Dream Dances,” include chanting by Nakai derived from the Hawaiian and Athabaskan languages. Translated to English: “Here, now prayers are made. For all and for the life-force that surrounds. This I offer for well-being, happiness, and longevity in one’s life journey. In beauty it returns. In beauty it returns.”