“The Canyons and Mesas of Bandelier” By Jill Haley
Album Review by Dyan Garris
“Jill Haley’s musical artistry is second to none in her ability to paint mesmerizing and unforgettable soundscapes that transport us almost magically to a particular vista.” – Dyan Garris
I’ve often thought how interesting it must be as a musical artist, to travel to our country’s national parks and translate what you feel there, and all the rich history of those places, to a musical soundscape. This is what Jill Haley does, and she does it magnificently.
Utterly captivating all through, Jill Haley’s “The Canyons and Mesas of Bandelier: Music for Bandelier National Monument” deeply stirs the mind, emotions, and imagination. Jill’s musical artistry is second to none in her ability to paint mesmerizing and unforgettable soundscapes that transport us almost magically to a particular vista. Here, through her eyes and through this gorgeous music she has created in tribute to Bandelier National Monument, the ancient Pueblo and the beauty of this place come alive in our hearts.
I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing some of Jill’s other national park themed albums. They are all special. “Bandelier” is particularly so. For example, the sound of early morning Bandelier bird calls can be heard interspersed through her song, “Frijoles Canyon Awakens.” It’s just magical.
“The Canyons and Mesas of Bandelier” is Jill Haley’s 7th recording in her national park series. The album will be released on Cor Anglais Records on March 5, 2021. Jill is joined here by guest artists David Cullen (guitar), Graham Cullen (cello), and Tony Deangelis (percussion).
Now, let’s dig in to these 12 tracks. The album opens beautifully with “Plaintive Cavate Melody.” A “cavate” is a cave dwelling. The English horn here is splendid as is the piano. While definitely “plaintive,” this is very relaxing and beautiful. “Frijoles Canyon Awakens” follows, and we hear not only those wonderful birds, but the piano is fabulously serene as well. Just gorgeous all through. “Ecotone” is rich and flowing with beautiful cello, English horn, and piano. Perfectly capturing such, “Fantastical Formations” opens and expands the imagination. We can literally see these formations in our mind’s eye and feel them in our heart with this gracefully composed piece.
If I have it right, a “caldera” is a sort of crater formed by a volcanic eruption. Valles Caldera is part of the national preserve and has a rich history. “Vista at Valles Caldera,” the song, perfectly paints through soundscape exactly what we might see in the landscape. There’s a natural serenity in this song. It’s a favorite on this album, although, each song on this album is truly its own treasure.
Alcove House in Bandelier is an elevated ancestral Pueblo site that is reached only by a steep climb up stone stairs and ladders. The steady melody here with Jill’s English horn, and the solid piano accompanying, paints us the perfect picture of “Alcove House Ascent.” This is kind of reverent in a soft and gentle way.
“Kaleidosocpe Flight” is equally as tender. This is also one of my favorites on the album. Flowing piano mixes perfectly with a wonderful horn melody, expertly played. The cello is just gorgeous here as well. This is a beautiful song that lightens and brightens the spirit. We feel completely free. Just delightful.
My understanding is that “Tsankawi” is a detached section of Bandelier National Monument. I think the dwellings there are connected by pathways and stone staircases, some steep, so one would certainly want to step carefully. “Tsankawi Footpaths” is a fun song that perfectly captures this ambiance. A cheerful horn melody combines with equally upbeat piano and soft percussion. I love it.
The Pajarito Plateau, I believe is a mesa located in a section of Bandelier. “Parajito Moonglow” gives us a perfect perspective of what we might see and feel atop that plateau there in the moonlight. Again, this is just gorgeous, with a softness that speaks of being completely bathed in the awesomeness of luminous moonglow. We can picture this vista perfectly in our minds through this piece.
The “CCC” stands for Civilian Conservation Corps, who essentially made it possible for more people to visit Bandelier by building facilities and roads into the canyons of Bandelier. “Gratitude for the CCC” is a reverent, flowing, and gentle song, perfectly conveying the emotion of gratitude. The guitar performance here is lovely, I might add. Through the work of the CCC, many people today are able to visit and properly explore Bandelier, Jill included. Beautiful tribute.
“The Delight Makers” is a huge, whopping novel of almost 500 pages by Adolf Bandelier, that is based on his experiences with the Pueblo peoples of New Mexico. Interesting, truly. The music, “The Delight Makers” is intriguing. It amazes me how Jill is able to paint such vivid soundscapes with her compositions and musical talents. This is also one to love from this album.
The album closes out with “Burnt Mesa.” If I have it right, there is a trail, “Burnt Mesa,” at Bandelier which crisscrosses the mesas and ends with a steep drop-off into Frijoles Canyon. The piano is evocative and passionate here, and although there is not a steep drop-off musically in this piece, it’s a totally wonderful end to this fascinating album.
Get “The Canyons and Mesas of Bandelier” here: https://jillhaley.com/
Higher Level Media