Beyond Grand Canyon
2006 / Gemini Sun Records
Review by Michael Debbage
Nicholas Gunn has been recording his music as far back as 1994 when he released his debut effort Afternoon In Sedona. Focusing on his flute and other variable wind instruments, though commercially viable Gunn has not been as accessible as some of his peers in the genre. This is largely due to the fact that his music is a little more eclectic with a somewhat focus on Native Indian and South American themes. Though he continues this trend with Beyond Grand Canyon he blends his trademark approach with a recording that is his most mainstream effort to date.
Evidence of the above can be found courtesy of the opening title track that is inspiring and uplifting. The most obvious ingredient is the amazing full production that your ears will be exposed to. The album makes no mention of a full orchestra thus one can only suspect that the recording used multi layers of keyboards and wind instrumentation. However, the song does credit the presence of the first lady of violin, Karen Biggs, well known for breathtaking performances with Yanni. Hearing her restrained yet exhilarating duet with Gunn’s flute is inspiring and complimented by his vocal chants. Equally as stirring is the more reflective and mellow meanderings of Gunn’s flute work on “Bridal Falls.” The same can be said for the mid tempo “Sentinel Of Eden”.
Otherwise, Nicholas continues to provide his listeners with exotic Native Indian and South American influences that can be found on the likes of the lazy “Elves’ Chasm”, the rhythmic “Jurassic Point” and “Sunkissed” that all feature label mate Johannes Linstead on guitar. Speaking of the label, Gemini Sun Records, Nicholas Gunn is the founder and CEO of this relatively new label that is attracting several big names such as Johannes Linstead, 2002 and most recently David Arkenstone. Considering the current inactivity of Narada, the emergence of this label is essential to the continued growth and survival of this genre.
Beyond Grand Canyon also represents the debut of the Audio Visual Connect Series that includes a bonus DVD that integrates Gunn’s music with the stunning photography of Michael Fatali creating a majestic audio and visual delight. In addition, this labor of love includes three additional tracks from Nicholas’ earlier recording “Breathe”. Along with insightful interviews with both the musician and the photographer, the DVD not only perks up the ears but also exposes our eyes to the majesty of the Grand Canyon and beyond.
Nicholas Gunn in his liner notes states “I want the music to stand on its own as an enjoyable experience with memorable melodies and arrangements. I believe that it captures the feeling and spirit that inspired it.” Gunn’s music has always stood on its own making his music very distinct when compared with his peers. This time around he has successfully created an album that is also accessible just as he planned. For those of you that have overlooked Nicholas Gunn in the past you may want to rethink that position as Beyond Grand Canyon will take you on a trip beyond.
July 20, 2006
with Johannes Linstead
Review by Michael Debbage