The critics on R. Carlos Nakai . . .

“The haunting sound of the Native American flute is gaining more widespread appeal in recent years, and R. Carlos Nakai is the reason for it.”

Billboard, 1995

“Nakai is creating viable new music, a body of work that could be considered as modern as classical music.”

Focus Magazine, 1994

“Nakai is a very special American artist. That he remains largely unknown is a reflection of the music industry’s inability to recognize and support artists outside of narrow commercial boundaries.”

Aaron Howard,
Public News, 1994

“Single-handedly, it seems R. Carlos Nakai has raised the music world’s consciousness in terms of traditional indigenous music of Native North Americans with his recordings of the Native American cedar flute.”

Dirty Linen, 1993

“Nakai’s fluid, piercing melodies reflect an understanding that one’s voice is the most immediate portal to the soul.”

Fred Mills,
Option, 1992

“…together they sculpt an impressionistic world chamber music, bathing in reverberating atmospheres… Like a Georgia O’Keefe painting, this a fragile and introspective flower in the desert.”

Critic’s Choice Review of Feather, Stone & Light,
Billboard, 1995

“There was something very special about this music. When I heard R. Carlos’ music, it was very provocative and evoked ancient ‘blood memories’. It was risk to use this music, but it moved me.”

– Martha Graham, age 94, explaining why she changed her 178th ballet,
Night Chant to feature Nakai’s music.

“His flute, for all it’s limited range of notes, creates a vast panorama of moods, from plaintive laments to soaring joy.”

Charles de Lint,
Dirty Linen, 1994

“Whenever I listen to it, I can just close my eyes and find myself in Arizona, gazing at the blue sky and red rocks as the sun slowly sets. Try listening to it yourself and see where it takes you. I can promise, it will be a deeply restful, soothing place.”

Review of Changes,
Jamie Michaels, 1985

“His playing reflects the duality of honoring traditions and developing new musical expressions.”

Las Vegas Sun, 1995

“Deep inside, you know this music, because you can feel it echo in your bones.”

Greg Fasolino,
Reflex Magazine, 1990

“Mesmerizing suite…. It’s joyous, celebratory music, immaculately rendered by Nakai, the musicians and composer/conductor James DeMars.”

Spirit Horses review 
Fred Mills, Option, 1992

“A southwestern supergroup… …the best musical collaborations occur when players of different backgrounds and diverse influences meet…. (the Nakai Quartet) understands the creative nature of this tension and exploits it fully, with wonderful collaborative results.”

Fred Mills,
Goldmine, 1997

“Kokopelli’s Cafe is a benchmark, placing the cedar flute firmly within the context of mainstream contemporary jazz.”

Andrew Means,
Rhythm Music Magazine, 1996

“Intrigue, mystery, shadow, and substance spice the servings at Kokopelli’s Cafe. The entrees… give the soul the sustenance it needs to sit up and pay attention. …the main ingredient found in all these musical dishes is delight.”

NAPRA Review, 1996


Nakai on his music . . .

“I have an intense interest in understanding how it relates to other instruments, in how far I can go.”
R. Carlos Nakai about the Native American flute in The Star Phoenix, 1995.

“I consider myself a traditional flutist…. Tradition is what people do now, rather than looking back at historic or romantic times. Our compositions deal with how we are as people today.”

R. Carlos Nakai, Indian Country Today, 1995.

“Our primary importance as musicians is trying to tell people that history can’t be changed, but the future can be. Personally, I feel I should try to contribute something that would encourage people to change, to become more positive about our situation, to reorganize and reorient ourselves together instead of continuing to build walls.”

R. Carlos Nakai