A million years ago, when I lived in the S.F. Bay Area, I met a flutist named Schawkie Roth. I’d been playing the harp for maybe 5 or 6 years by that time, and Schawkie decided we were destined to play together. He was creating meditation music and I was snobby about meditation music, so I resisted, suggesting other harpists he could play with, but he kept coming back and telling me we needed to work together.
Well, he was right, and he was a wonderful collaborator. At the time I was searching to find and define myself as a cutting edge musician and Schawkie got me to play music I normally would have avoided: lovely, beautiful, musical improvisations with him.
Now I can go back and simply enjoy the interplay that came so naturally I didn’t realize it was a rare gift.
We made a series of meditation recordings followed by a Christmas recordings. I just stumbled on that “Flute & Harp for Christmas” recording tonight in Apple Music.
I still remember the recording session for this album, because Schawkie was so determined to get a gorgeous acoustic sound. This was in the days when I played acoustic concert harp – and we recorded this in a huge wooden room, the two of us in the middle of the room, with a microphone on each of us, improvising on christmas carols.
Unlike my later studio recordings with a label, where each track was crafted from many takes and overdubs, Schawkie wanted to capture the gestalt of the music and the unique relationship we had as musical partners, of improvising freely on forms we often changed in the moment – and to go for full takes, with neither overdubs or edits, just the gorgeous sound of that room and the spirit of our collaboration.
I was too young and inexperienced to know just how unique and wonderful an experience that was. I’m just glad I can look back on it now, and enjoy the meticulous care he took in creating the artistic conditions that made it possible to truly invent together in our recordings together.
I hope you enjoy what you hear as well – and Happy Holidays!
Holiday Season 2018 Update
I just got a “Google Alert” that each of these tracks are now playable via YouTube — so take a listen to them below.