January 28th, 2014 Last Updated on: January 28th, 2014
What happens when NAMMY-winning recording artist Gabriel Ayala unites his guitar proficiency with the musical prowess displayed by multiple-Grammy nominee Will Clipman? Passion, Fire & Grace reveals the answer to this question. The resulting CD enjoins listeners to revel in a multifaceted musical journey.
Tribes and Nations intersect in the Southwest, which this CD celebrates throughout its smooth songs. “Whispers to an Eagle” opens with Indigenous language, as a prayer seamlessly streams into a chant that is accompanied by lovely music. Stirring listeners with “Sonora Nights”, the CD starts with flamenco beats and an introductory blend of beating drums, strumming guitars and clicking castanets. In “La Isla”, the talented Ayala and Clipman pick up the pace by adding tropical rhythms to their respective instruments. From the start, this CD distinguishes itself as a panoramic view of the Southwest region and includes many of the cultures that intertwine in this intriguing region.
Ayala is noted for his classical guitar stylings, which infuse many of the tracks with the precision and standards of classical music. “Tres Notas Para Decir” transforms Ayala's rigorous and rapid guitar scales into a song that ruminates on how best to express true love. Fans of classical guitar playing should appreciate Ayala's distinctive excellence throughout “Allegro”, which adds rapid drumbeats and clacking castanets. Minor chords and a less ebullient tone make “Black Orpheus” a thought-provoking piece of deep emotion.
In addition to incorporating the ethnicities in the Southwest region, Passion, Fire &Grace also focuses on the nature and environment found in the deserts and mountains of the Southwest. Water proves to be a precious resource in the arid Southwest and a recurring theme of this CD. “Monsoon” evokes images of copious rains saturating a dry and thirsty desert, by slowing the pace of the guitar playing, reducing the force of the drums and spotlighting the subtleties of a rainstick. “Entre Dos Aguas” incorporates a fluid style and forthright guitar in order to illustrate the importance of the borderlands of the Rio Grande River between the USA and Mexico. As interpreted by these artists, this tune becomes a metaphor for the transfer of cultures, expansion of Native identity and historical ties between tribes and nations.
Passion, Fire & Grace features songs that mirror the strong cultural, social and environmental character of the Southwest. Gabriel Ayala is Yaqui maestro, who sets a standard of excellence with his great guitar playing. Much of the mood of the CD is set by Will Clipman, who helps to move the music through an array of feelings and styles. Most listeners will find something to like on this CD, and almost all will find more than one song that will quickly become a favorite.
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