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Recommended: Randy Wood, Antonio Woody, Gabriel Ayala and Will Clipman

ICTMN Recommends:

Randy Wood, The Gift of Life: Round Dances and Songs of the Native Road

Canyon Records

From the Saddle Lake Cree First Nation in Alberta, Canada, Randy Wood is a respected Powwow singer and Grass Dancer who has earned numerous Grammy nominations; twice as a solo artist and five times with Northern Cree, the group he co-founded. The Gift of Life: Round Dances and Songs of the Native Road, is yet another stellar album from an undisputed master. Round Dance songs have generally upbeat tempos and are understandably often Powwow favorites, yet this disc finds Wood departing, just a little bit, from tradition: For the most part, it's not the drum that takes center stage but his pleasant and haunting vocals. Wood sings with his heart on his sleeve—you have no choice but to listen. His songs can spark both laughter and introspection. Highlights include "Listen to the Children," in which he sings of the fragility and joy of youth, and "Wounded Knee," which conveys the sadness at the core of Native history. It's all effective and affecting—get this album.

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Antonio Woody, Old Style: Native American Peyote Songs

Canyon Records

As noted on his album, Antonio Woody, an artist from one of the most prominent singing families of the Dine, is deeply involved in the healing traditions of the Native American Church. As a testament to his commitment to preserving Native American Peyote Songs for the generations to come, Woody has created a truly inspirational album with strong drumbeats, rattle and lyrics. Keep’em coming Woody!

Exceptional World Music:

Gabriel Ayala & Will Clipman, Passion, Fire and Grace

Canyon Records

Holy cow, this is good music. Classically trained award-winning guitarist Gabriel Ayala and five time Grammy nominated artist Will Clipman combine their talents to create a passionate, fiery and graceful album. The best track on the album is the brilliantly-played "Tres Notas Para Decir Te Quiero" ("Three Notes to Say I Love You"). If you're looking to add a little bit of musical spice to a romantic evening, this disc will do the job.