Collaborations between top musicians like Russ Freeman and Craig Chaquico are rarely as sublime as this.
Many a famous musician, especially as they get older, has tried to partner with another, well known musician to make an album together. Madonna is a prime example, particularly since she turned 50 and began to associate herself with increasingly younger, hip, and diverse male and female performers in musical genres that span the globe. And who could forget about all the “star-studded” duets so beloved in pop music, hip hop, and country?
Well, From the Redwoods to the Rockies isn’t like that. It’s not about marketing. It’s about the music. This is a collaboration between two talented smooth jazz guitarists, Craig Chaquico (a leading member of the 80s band, Starship) and Russ Freeman (a founder of the jazz ensemble, the Rippingtons). It’s released under the Windham Hill Jazz label, and the back of the CD instructs librarians and music shop owners to file it under “Russ Freeman Jazz.”
That didn’t happen at my public library, where this CD is proudly displayed with a “Craig Chaquico Jazz” label. Other Chaquico albums are filed in “Folk” or “New Age,” but the labels in this case truly do not matter.
This isn’t Craig’s album or Russ’s album. It belongs to us all. It spans the geographic space between the redwoods of California and the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. The music is engaging, atmospheric, and inspired by nature, by Native American traditions, and by a range of American musical styles, from jazz to New Age to Latin to folk. And lots of things in-between. The songs don’t demand your attention. They invite you in. They entice you. They quietly pull you closer with their beguiling rhythms, their hypnotic guitar licks, and their peaceful energy flows. It is sacred music of the highest order.
Don’t dismiss music like this simply because it’s not what you expected. Is it properly called jazz? I don’t know. It seems so much more than that. And somehow so much less. Sound that heals. No more than this, but also no less. Is there even a label for that?