Oh, The Glorious Flute!

Posted on January 6, 2011

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For about the past month-and-a-half, Erykah Badu’s album “Icon” has been in near constant rotation in the South Korean sedan. The appeal? Sheer auditory felicity. The lyrics are my cup of tea, too, with several exceptions. But the sound? Amazing. Simply gorgeous. So one of many things I enjoy on this CD is the intermittent flute heard in the ninth track, “Love Of My Life,” beginning at around the 1:09 mark. This is the piece from the early 2000s performed with Common. The aforementioned flute is a subtle but distinct punctuation mark throughout the song. It’s musician has the kind of talent that combines traditional play with a flair of jazzy improvisation. That beautiful instrument played in spasmodic fashion is what has the song on repeat daily.

The flute in Erykah Badu’s tune, though, also brought my mind back to another brilliant handling of this eccentric woodwind. Back in 2005, shai linne released one of my favorite hip hop CDs of all time, called “The Solus Christus Project.” This album included a title track, which is one of my favorite songs of its genre. A surprising and thoroughly enjoyable flute can be heard throughout the song, but I love the way it glides in starting around 0:43. The year 2005 was the first time I’d heard a flute in a hip hop song, so I’d begun paying more attention to its unique sound ever since.

As you may have already read, some friends and I visited a lounge in New York’s West Village called Fat Cat a few weeks ago and had a great time. What I hadn’t mentioned in my writing about Fat Cat is that within the remarkable Latin Jazz band we’d enjoyed, there was an impressive flutist. It was great lounging fewer than five feet from the musician and his mic stand, watching his passionate play, and hearing a sound that tested the limits of that wonderful instrument without going overboard. I find myself loving the flute’s singularity and ability to add tremendous value to a compilation of sound.

Props to the flute and its beautiful contribution to our musical aesthetic. I think I’ll add it to my growing list of things to learn.

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Posted in: Music