Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Jade Warrior - Way Of The Sun (1978)
01. Sun Ra
02. Sun Child
04. Heaven Stone
05. Way Of The Sun
06. River Song
08. Dance Of The Sun
09. Death Of Ra
The duo of guitarist Tony Duhig and virtuoso flautist and woodwind player Jon Field were signed to Island records in 1974, following the recent break up of the four piece Jade Warrior (who recorded three albums for Vertigo records between 1970 and 1973). Island founder Chris Blackwell signed the duo upon the recommendation of Steve Winwood, declaring Jade Warrior to be "an ornament to my label". Blackwell gave Duhig and Field access to unlimited studio time to create four albums that were later hailed as instrumental masterpieces, all of which fused ethnic African and far eastern influences with superbly innovative rock guitar playing by Tony Duhig.
Way of the Sun was perhaps the band's most fully realised work, drawing upon South American musical influences which blended effortlessly with western rock.
Each of Jade Warrior's Island albums was a revelation, both musically and thematically. Floating World's exploration of the Japanese philosophy of Ukiyo, Waves' oceanic voyage, the ninth century Buddhist monk whose story is told on the B-side of Kites (and who takes airy flight across the flip) -- all were extraordinary expeditions into the Orient. Having conquered the East, Warrior now turned their Jade eye westward, toward Latin America. By this time, Jade were already moving toward a more orchestral sound, as Kites had evidenced, but Way of the Sun was positively cinematic. Within, the duo -- aided by a host of guest musicians -- created an incredibly vibrant set that quivers with emotion and life itself. Dawn announces itself with a clap of thunder on "Sun Ra," waking the earth's denizens from their slumbers. Birds soar into the sky, creatures large and small scamper through the meadows and woods, while overhead the sun majestically rises, all of which Jade bring to vivid life across both "Sun Ra" and "Sun Child." "Heaven Stone" and the title track are similarly interconnected, both thematically and musically, and tied to the spiritual beliefs of the continent's indigenous peoples, while broadly hinting at the coming of the conquistadors and their conquering culture. But even as the Spanish laid waste to the land and its peoples, they too would be changed by them, which is reflected by "Carnival" and "Dance of the Sun," songs melding together indigenous and Spanish traditions. The album ends with the haunting "Death of Ra," as the sun sinks below the horizon. Although Latin styles predominate across the set, Warrior weave in myriad other musical threads -- Eastern, jazz, surf, and more. The album itself was arguably Jade Warrior's best, their apotheosis, or at least their grand finale, for after its release, Island promptly dumped the duo. Drummers John Dentith and Graham Morgan now went their separate ways, and the Warrior were no more.