Dorothy Carter - Waillee Waillee LP
Label: Palto Flats
Palto Flats / Putojefe present the first ever reissue of the work of American composer Dorothy Carter, master of the hammered dulcimer, zither, and other instruments of the hammer chord zither/psalterium family. A true musical vagabond, Dorothy was born in New York in 1935, though her spiritual pursuit of an expansive musical knowledge would take her to monasteries in Mexico, conservatories in France and London, and the founding of the Central Maine Power Music Company (CMPMC), with new-age/minimalist luminaries such as Constance Demby and Robert Rutman.
Dorothy Carter was many things - a virtuoso player, storyteller, historian of Celtic and Appalachian folk music, avid lifelong busker, avant-garde musician, and itinerant troubadour, laying a framework for music that existed both within and outside of standard folk idioms - never better represented than on her 1978 masterwork, Waillee Wailee. Underscored by Bob Rutman's cavernous bowing of the steel cello, the richness of Waillee Waillee's sound produces an album unlike any other in her discography. In particular, its two side-ending pieces, "Summer Rhapsody" and "Tree of Life," glide with the shimmering filigree of hammered dulcimer and Dorothy Carter's ephemeral voice floating over Rutman's droning buzz of the steel cello. The elements of these two tracks suggest something akin to a transcendental Appalachian raga or whirling cosmic folk music, an effortless combination that serves to add additional substance to the remaining tracks on the album.
The title track is one of her most enduring compositions, often performed in stripped down versions throughout her career, and one of her sole recordings featuring a full band, with the contrapuntal interplay of tremulous flute, vibrating steel cello, bass and drums. Lyrically and tonally, her voice would never sound as stirring and refined as on this, her most outwardly accessible song.