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Gaia's Dream

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Album Review

If one heard Nana Simopoulos' name without knowing what kind of music she plays, it would be logical to assume that she's a traditional Greek artist — Simopoulos, after all, is obviously a Greek name, and she is, in fact, of Greek descent. But the singer/instrumentalist is far from a Greek purist, and Gaia's Dream owes as much to Indian and Arabic music as it does to Greek music. Like her other releases, Gaia's Dream turns to different cultures for inspiration — on this CD (which was recorded in 1992 and released in 2002), American folk and pop elements interact with Greek, Indian, and Arabic/Middle Eastern elements. The sitar and the bansuri flute (both from India) are part of the big picture, but so are the Native American flute, the djembe (a string instrument from West Africa), and castanets (which are typically heard in the traditional music of Morocco and other North African countries). Although Simopoulos gets much of her inspiration from places where modal/scalar playing prevails — such as Greece, the Middle East, North Africa, and India — she certainly isn't dogmatic or rigid about it. Multi-culturalism prevails on Gaia's Dream, and that means that Simopoulos doesn't have to limit herself to one country or one continent. It means that if Steve Gorn, one of the musicians who accompanies her, finds different flutes from different continents useful, he has no reason not to play them; he has no reason not to play an Indian bansuri flute one minute and a Native American flute the next. But as far-reaching as Simopoulos is, Gaia's Dream does have a certain continuity — throughout the CD, she maintains a contemplative, peacefully spiritual mood. Gaia's Dream isn't Simopoulos' best album, but it's an enjoyable outing that underscores her risk-taking nature.

Biography

Genre: World

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Baltimore native Nana Simopoulos got her start in the music world early, learning to play the piano at the age of five. Unsatisfied with the instrument, she announced to her parents that she was moving on to the guitar, and started learning classical guitar. She moved to Greece soon after, and started getting into contemporary bands and artists. Her exposure to this music inspired her to play in rock and folk groups as well as keep up with her classical guitar studies. Once she turned 19, it...
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Gaia's Dream, Nana Simopoulos
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