Winter Dreams is a bona fide new age Christmas classic, an instrumental masterpiece that combines R. Carlos Nakai's haunting Native American flute with William Eaton's guitar, lyre, and harp guitar. Created in 1990, this timeless recording excels on every level.
This is exquisite mood music, a rich palette of calming colors and textured aural tapestries. The flute and guitar are well matched. The Native American flute can sound somewhat stark and lonely on its own; the acoustic strings provide a warm foundation and beautiful balance. Nakai is world-famous for his mastery of the cedar flute, which comes to life in his capable hands. Interestingly, Nakai began his musical career as a trumpeter (my instrument of choice many moons ago), but a car accident destroyed his embouchure, and this led to his fabulously successful flute career. It's funny how life (and fate) can steer us in radically different directions for unexpected reasons.
Winter Dreams covers nine ancient carols and one Eaton/Nakai original, The First Snowfall, a flowing and evocative piece that will have those early flakes blowing through your consciousness. On the closing cut, Silent Night, the Navajo Chorale provides faraway harmonies that suggest a dreamlike state. It is an appropriate finale to an elegantly-crafted album.
R. Carlos Nakai and William Eaton make the familiar become brand spankin' new all over again. The innovative arrangements and artful execution on Winter Dreams are guaranteed to make visions of sugar plums dance in your head!
(Reviewed in 2007)
More From the liner notes:
As a Dine (Navajo), R. Carlos Nakai's world has two seasons. Summer is the explosive recreation of the natural world balanced by the quiet of the winter season. This is the time to reassess personal experiences in the journey of life and to respect all that has been created for survival and enjoyment by the Yei, Coyote and the First People.
So, too, in the Christian celebration of the birth of Christ, the darkest time of the year is the time of introspection, of renewal of hope and faith, of thanksgiving for the gifts of love.
In this spirit, R. Carlos Nakai and guitarist William Eaton arranged these beautiful Christmas songs from Europe. It is as if these melodies carried themselves from the Old World across the New... to the southwestern deserts where the wind and solitude imbued them with a new enchantment...
It is the dream of R. Carlos Nakai and William Eaton that the peace and goodwill expressed in these timeless melodies lives throughout the year for people of all cultures and faiths.
From the Website:
Of Navajo-Ute heritage, R. Carlos Nakai is the world's premier performer of the Native American flute. Originally trained in classical trumpet and music theory, Nakai was given a traditional cedar wood flute as a gift and challenged to see what he could do with it.
Since 1983, he has released over 35 albums on the Canyon label. In addition to his solo appearances throughout the United States, Europe, and Japan, Nakai has worked with guitarist William Eaton, flutist Paul Horn, composers James DeMars and Phillip Glass and various symphony orchestras. --By Carol Swanson - ChristmasReviews website