John Hughes, the shaman of serenity from Brattleboro, VT, has just released his second solo album, The Oosh Paradigm. It expands on the moods and rhythms he explored in his first CD, Kora Sutra, but the effect is similar: often relaxed and meditative, sometimes dancy and celebratory, always simply joyful to be alive.
Hughes, a multi-talented musician, sculptor, and teacher, has trained with master drummers from Guinea and Mali, and teaches drumming workshops across the US. He plays practically every instrument here: kora, congas, guiro, and balafon. The nine tracks on The Oosh Paradigm are extended improvisations that draw from and mix together a wide range of world styles, with the kora (a traditional west African harp-like instrument) as their centerpiece. Where else can you hear a wistful piece like Romanian Moonlight, so evocative of western Europe, or such a flamenco-driven piece as Danza del Amor, or even a jazzy piece like Not Quite All Blues, inspired by Miles Davis—all employing the complex multi-stringed kora? Hughes proves to be as versatile as his instrument of choice, sliding in and out of the different styles and moods and making them totally his own.
Two of my favorite tracks on this CD feature Hughes' vocals, I Could Hear the Earth and Wail Song. On both, his lyrics are spare but evocative, and his smooth tenor is as personal as an old friend's. It makes me think of the words of another shaman (of sorts), Kahlil Gibran: "In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures." When John Hughes shares his sweet music, he is indeed everyone's friend.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2007, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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