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Matt Slocum: Black Elk’s Dream

Black Elk’s Dream is a concept album. Its storyline belongs to the Lakota Sioux medicine man and visionary who relayed his life’s narrative to John G. Neihardt for the book Black Elk Speaks, published in 1932. Through drummer and composer Matt Slocum, 82 years later, Black Elk speaks again.

It is a meticulous, deeply realized work, remarkable not only for its coherence as a single arc but also for its evolving, authentic poignancy. “Ghost Dance” and “Days of Peace” are musical correlatives to Black Elk’s vision of the wholeness of earth and its creatures. “Black Hills” and “A Disappearing Path” contain desolation within resignation. Long before Black Elk’s death in 1950, the Lakota had lost their land and their age-old way of life. Pat Metheny’s “Is This America?” belongs within Slocum’s suite, because it is the most ethereal of protest songs.

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