Some musicians come to the summit of their career after many years;
some of them fly up to a musical sky like a bright stars and then
maintain a bright blaze. Nicholas Gunn belongs to the second group.
He has rushed into the world of a modern new age music, and it
seems that he practically at once became one of those artists,
without whom it is impossible to imagine this music. He is interesting
not only by his impetuous "breakthrough," but first
of all by his unique talent.
We'll talk about his music a little bit later, but first, some
biographical facts. Nicholas Gunn is an Englishman, he was born
in Rochester (Great Britain). Nicholas had a reliable musical
education at the Royal School of Music in Rochester. While there,
he learned to play flute and studied music theory. After graduating,
Nicholas moved to Southern California, where he settled. He began
composing his own music and at first Nicholas performed for friends
who visited his home. As his number of compositions increased,
Nicholas began to seek out a broader audience. In 1993 Nicholas
recorded his debut album,
"Afternoon In Sedona" at the
Real Music Studio. Success of this album was enormous. What were
these special features in Nicholas Gunn's music, which caused
the incredible responses about it as a new, outstanding phenomena
in the world of modern instrumental music?
First of all the music of Nicholas Gunn is individual and recognizable
from the very first chords. He has found his own style: he has
connected a soft flute and passionate "living" drums
(which Nicholas also plays) as a whole. To these was added a perfect
melodic line played on electronic keyboards, and to top it off,
a real flamenco guitar! It made Gunn's music more passionate and
harmonic. In Gunn's music the influence of Native American Indian
music is present.
Gunn's music has a spiritual quality. It possesses power and passion,
"charges" us by its energy and at the same time it is
intelligent. The musician speaks to us and tries to show us his
inner search. This is how Nicholas has described his composition
"Qomolangma": "In everyone's hearts and minds lies
a place where they can escape to feel the power of the earth.
It is here where we can find peace and serenity or the challenge
of living within the harmony of nature." His music is natural
and earthy. In it the hidden power of Mother Earth is displayed,
which is inspired by the passionate heart of the performer.
But let us continue the story, the most remarkable events are
ahead. Nicholas successfully continued his creative work over
next two years and released two albums entitled "The Sacred Fire"
and "The Music of the Grand Canyon." Both albums made
the Billboard top ten list.
"The Sacred Fire" displayed not only the special "Gunn"
sound, but also featured performances by many interesting musicians.
"Odessa," which was often played in various dancing
clubs, features the vocals of Cassandra Sheard. In the composition
"From Heaven to Earth" one can hear a famous violin
player Karen Briggs who also performed in concert with Yanni.
Still, the main adornment of the "Sacred Fire" is the
classical guitar performance of Zavier. His instrument with soft
nylon strings harmonizes the music and adds completeness to it.
"The Music of the Grand Canyon" which was released as
part of "The National Parks Series" by Real Music Company
is a classic in the new age music genre. Some may disagree, but
I believe this album, as well as the other albums of the Series
will form a part of history and will be studied as an example
of "canonical new age." In "The Music of the Grand
Canyon" everything is alloyed as a whole: percussion, flute,
keyboards, guitar, voices of American Indians and nature sounds.
Added to this are a variety of nature sounds recorded in the National
Parks. "As a composer and musician, I believe that everything
resonates with a frequency - earth, people and objects. I translate
this energy into images using instruments and sound. The compositions
on this disc are not necessarily about what I saw while in the
Canyon, but rather a reflection of the frequency that resides
within the Canyon," tells Gunn. This is where I see the main
merit of the album. This music promotes visualization. When hearing
the composition "Flight Over North Rim," it seems that
you fly over the Canyon and you observe its panorama from the
height of bird's flight. Breadth and a large scope are characteristic
to Gunn's music. "The echoing voices, the sound within the
rocks, the moonlit sky, turquoise waters and changing shadows
are what I hope to have captured and put into these melodies.
I felt the power of the Canyon and the tranquil song within it.
Close your eyes and visualize as you journey through The Music
of the Grand Canyon." On the composition "Grand Canyon"
is the voice of Razor Saltboy, a member of the Navajo Indian Nation,
who tells about this majestic monument of the Nature. Gunn and
the Real Music company have decided to pass ten percent of the
income from releasing of the album to the Grand Canyon Association,
which is working on projects to preserve the unique nature reserve.
By its design this CD is a real masterpiece, one of the best of
all I've seen.
In 1996, Gunn released his fourth album named
It was a courageous and in many respects experimental project.
In my opinion, this was a turning point in Gunn's creative work.
With "Crossroads" we hear a new Gunn: more mature and
more refined. Maybe these changes in Gunn's music was caused by
the fact that in the first time his wife Cheryl Gunn was co-author
and arranger. Arrangements here became more complicated, the part
of electronic instruments increased, along with usual "living"
drums and flute of Nicholas, acoustic guitar by Zavier and Indians
voices, appeared violins, acoustic piano and even vocals (including
Cheryl's very sensually performed composition, "Forever").
Gunn's music became more dynamic and emotional, though "Crossroads"
is stylistically more indistinct and uneven. One could feel that
the performer is in the process of a creative search, trying for
a new sound and finding new means of realizing his ideas. Maybe
due to this search the music of "Crossroads" seemed
somewhat contradictory. It was more difficult for some fans of
Gunn to accept this album. However, even the most critical could
find in the album some compositions which are wonderful in their
beauty of sound such as "Forever" and "Return of
In 1997 Gunn took part in recording Cheryl Gunn's debut album,
"Vanity of Venus" which was released by Anagram Records. Nicholas's
influence is strongly felt in this album. The music is very romantic,
sincere and sensual. One might compare this album with the works
of Enya. It seems that Nicholas has not only found his love, but
he successfully discovered new horizons of his creative work.
Nicholas's strongest and most interesting project is his last
album to date entitled
"Passion in My Heart." This album
was released quite recently and it undoubtedly has become one
of the most bright events in new age music over the last years.
Gunn's instrumental music has changed a little. It has become
more emotionally saturated. He expresses his ideas more succinctly
to achieve a perfection of his form. Especially powerful are two
compositions, "El Galivan" and "Pale Moon Rising,"
which follow one another and are merged together. Cheryl took
part in the arranging once again and also performed on the keyboard
If every musician could be compared with any particular element,
then Nicholas is undoubtedly fire. Sometimes this fire is soft
and warming the soul, sometimes it is passionate and burning.
"Passion in My Heart" possesses clearance of mind, combined
with inspiration and spirituality. Gunn says that in his music
he tries to reflect the best things in life. According to him,
"it is a reflection of where I picture the world to be, of
everything in balance."
In June of this year, Cheryl Gunn released a new album called
"The Sun At Midnight" on Sonic Images Records. Nicholas
took part in the recording of the album both as flutist and arranger.
Nicholas and Cheryl are a duet, helping each other, so the two
origins - masculine and feminine - are united here not only in
matrimony but also in music.
P.S. I would like to express my gratitude to Alexander Petrov
for translation of this article.