Saturday night at a packed Lied Center, Horn and Nakai played more than a dozen songs, from ethereal concertos and Duke Ellington's jazz to free-flowing improvisations that seemed of another world.
Both musicians are classically trained: Horn at Oberlin Conservatory of Music and Manhattan School of Music, Nakai at Juilliard. That discipline is the foundation of their music-making, the common language between Horn's new-ageness and Nakai's American Indian heritage.
The concert opened with Nakai playing a small, high-pitched hunting whistle made of bird bone and then quickly changing to a deeper-sounding cedar flute for "Two World Concerto." An echo machine was used during a Comache tune, creating a rippling, meditative effect.
Horn, playing standard and American Indian flutes, snared the audience with his solos of Ellington's "Things Ain't What They Used To Be"; a beautiful, emotional work about peace written by cellist Pablo Casals; and a work inspired by African rhythms and singing.
Nakai's and Horn's nimble fingering, breath control and ability to bend the sound made by the flutes were remarkable. Yet, they even became better when they paired their playing.
A piece played against a recording made of a raven's caw and the howling of Horn's pet dog was a memory-maker, but the finale that brought Horn's playing and Nakai's singing together with the audience's collective humming was nothing short of thrilling.
-- Features-arts editor Jan Biles can be reached at 832-7146.