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The seed of this album was planted back in 2003 while hiking a thousand miles on the Pacific Crest Trail. That seed has grown into the album you hold in your hands. These recordings are interactions with and impressions of places. On Arizona Morning, A New Life Lullaby, and Desert Train you hear the environments as a backdrop to the music. Ocean Dreams is an interpretation of the sound and feel of the ocean created entirely within the recording studio. By contrast Channel Coast Shakuhachi was recorded entirely live on location. Mala is not about any particular place, but a meditation on the overall Journey thus far.
This music is about the Journey to this point in my life. Since the last solo album I released in 2004, Breath of Invocation, many things have changed in my life. If youve heard that last album, change will be immediately clear. For one thing, I no longer call the tuba my primary instrument. Instead of having a primary instrument, I try to approach all instruments as friends. Some of those friends I have a very long and deep relationship while others are new and were still getting to know each other. The instruments that appear on this album come from the world over. Some of them are mass produced instruments, others are made by small companies or single artisans, and a couple were made with my own two hands. Some of the instruments include bullroarer, kalimba, dulcimer, tuba, dosongoni, didjeridus, log drum, frame drums, and flutes.
While the instruments I interact with have changed, it is also apparent that some things remain the same. The mood on this album is not new to anyone familiar with my work. It reflects a constant in my life: that looking to nature and music are a way of looking within oneself.
The title Wisp is borrowed from the artwork that graces the cover of this album. It is a 2007 painting by my partner, Anne Froning Wike (http://annefroningwike.com). I was fortunate enough to witness the process from which this painting came to be. She took a small piece of bamboo and sharpened it into a pen, dipped it into walnut ink, and quickly painted a bamboo form onto a sheet of paper. She immediately moved on to other paintings that day without concerning herself with what she was creating. Looking back she realized that these works captured something beautiful. Now I dont know precisely why she chose the name Wisp but I do know that it is apt. The painting looks as much like a branch of bamboo as it does a thread of smoke or cloud, captured at a particular moment. And the process of its creation was a wisp in time that would be impossible to precisely recreate. This is the feeling behind the music on this album. Sure, I could have added a little more here or played a little cleaner there, but these recordings are impressions of moments and places. One of the skills an artist must cultivate is an understanding of when a piece is finished. So like the cover painting, instead of continuing to work the music on this album, Ive instead decided to let it stand as a wisp, a thin streak of smoke, a fragment of moon
or perhaps a fleeting moment of presence in this life.