John Huling Music Reviews
Native American music is about much more than just flutes and drums. It’s about history, culture and family. It’s about respect for the earth and spirituality. It’s a style of music where the past and present converge; where traditions are not only remembered but celebrated.
The beauty of an eagle soaring across a blue sky, a refreshing afternoon rainstorm, ripples reflecting on a peaceful stream…these are the “Musical Visions” that inspire the music of John Huling. Huling is an artist that is amazingly in touch with the natural world around us. His music captures, like no other, the true spirit of the Native Southwest. The artist’s expertise lies with the Native American Flute, an instrument he has been playing for most of his life. However his musical skills don’t end there; just listen to any one of his albums and you will witness a mosaic of natural ambience, percussion, multicultural instrumentation and mood, molded with Huling ‘s deft hand.
“I absolutely love music. It has been part of my family’s history for more than 400 years if not more.” states Huling. His own experiences with music extend back to childhood, when he picked up the flute for the first time at the age of four. Having grown up in and around Indian Reservations almost all of his life, Native American culture had a large impact on his music from the start. “A friend of mine, Grandfather Semu Haiati of the Chumash tribe, had told me to …always do your own songs… listen to the spirit and the song will come.” says Huling.
He obviously took that advice, given the unique sound and direction of his music. In fact, Huling is one of the original pioneers of Native American fusion sound…also know as “Native American Influenced” music so emulated today. Huling easily take his rightful place alongside such names as R. Carlos Nakai, Coyote Oldman and Douglas Spotted Eagle. “I wanted a sound that was between Steve Roach and R. Carlos Nakai, with anything I could bring to it. Out of that desire my true music was born… a combination of organic instruments blended with nature recordings.” says Huling.
Although Huling’s name has become synonymous with native American flute music, Huling also plays other instruments as well, like percussion/drums, guitar, piano and synthesizers. His love for the Native flute truly blossomed in the 80’s, around the time he released his first solo album in 1983. Several songs made it in the top 10 radio play lists. In the late 80’s, he began incorporating new elements into his music, meaning synthesizers and studio work designed to give the music a soft, fluid feel. His move into public consciousness was cemented with his 1993 album SPIRITLANDS, which has been a perennial bestseller for nearly 20 years! A handful of other albums followed… each similar, yet unique in their own way. “My compositions are largely determined by my surroundings. That’s why I spend so much time in various parts of the country.” Huling said accounting for the different colors of each of his releases.
Huling hit an all-time high note with the sublime 2003 album ANCESTRAL WATERS, which invokes the beauty and peacefulness of our nation’s waterways. The album displayed that Huling continues to be prolific composer and arranger of inspired Native Influenced music. The flutist returned this summer with a brand new release titled UNDER DESERT SKIES, which transports the listener to the scenic mesas and canyons of the Southwest. This new album is a continuation of the “Spiritlands” and “Musical Visions of the Southwest” series he started in 1990.
Above all, John Huling aspires to create music that positively affects the spirit. It means a lot to him when he hears feedback from listeners detailing the benefits his music has brought them. “The best rewards for me have been the thousands of letters I have received over the last 20 years from fans.” Huling said. Judging by the quality of his new album, UNDER DESERT SKIES, I think it’s safe to say that he can expect plenty more letters in the years to come.
Winter Solstice – Southwest Meditations Both the chill of winter and the warmth of John Huling’s music are blended together on WINTER SOLSTICE, an album loaded with the gorgeous compositions we have come to expect from Huling. Themed after the meditative beauty of a Southwest winter, the songs bear a haunting elegance, where the melodic and harmonious tones of the Native American flute offer a sublime focal point. Low-key beats and percussive instruments join in to add to the earthy elements of this wonderful recording; in particular, the hollow, metallic bell like sound of the Hang Drum, and mysterious voice quality of the Cristal Baschet coupled with nature sounds make this a unique and stand out “must have” album. Also try North Star Meditations
Dan Cowan MUSIC IN REVIEW
I bought Jelly Music at the beautiful Shedd Aquarium in Chicago while on vacation. I have never purchased this kind of music before and it is a wonderful experience. My husband and I listen to it before we go to bed, and now are addicted to it. The melodies are soothing, relaxing and the ocean sounds are haunting and magical. It feels luxurious and we look forward to creating a peaceful mood that lulls us to sleep, letting the cares of the world fall away. I just ordered two more of his CD’s, which feature Native American music, and look forward to more of the mystical atmosphere John Huling creates. I am sure that masseuses across America must use this as background music, as well as the Monterey Bay Aquarium for their exhibits. Listening to Huling at home is such a treat, I wish that I had discovered him years ago, but better late than never! Treat yourself!
Michelle McKenzie/Monterey California USA I first became aware of John’s music when I worked at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and have been a huge fan ever since. I love the quiet beauty of this album. It reminds me of walking in a pueblo as the sky grew dark…all around me was quiet and there was magic in the air.