Ancestors is the story of royal hartigan’s personal and global family, enshrined in music, poetry, tap-dancing and reminiscences. This diverse collection is united in his own existence and musical pathways. He writes:
I began working on our Ancestors double compact disc after the death of my mother, who was the last person in my immediate family to pass away, leaving only myself to continue on life’s paths.
It occurred to me that most of us have people in our families or meet on our journeys for whom we have a deep bond. Their departure in my view makes them all ancestors, and this album is to honor these forebears, with my personal experiences as one gateway to an expression for us all in the human family.
In a parallel way, the paths of world cultures from ancient times to the present are the ancestors of the world’s family on its journey through time and space. My idea is to express that heritage through traditional and cross cultural compositions and improvisations.
We have recorded a diverse group of duets, trios, quartets, and solos that center on my work with master artists from global cultures and cross cultural styles: West African master drummer C. K. Ladzekpo, Philippine kulintang master Danongan Kalanduyan, Chinese guzheng artist Weihua Zhang, African American vocalist Baomi, Persian American saxophonist and flutist Hafez Modirzadeh, violinists Sandra Poindexter and Yu Fuhua, banjoist Timothy Volpicella, Japanese shakuhachi artist Masaru Koga, and Philippine percussionist Conrad Benedicto. I contribute percussion, drumset, piano, and tap dance to this musical story.
The music here does not fit a single commercial category. Its genesis and final form are based on the deepest feel and sense my musical colleagues and I have of life, death, remembrance, loss, and transcendence.
Our music attempts to bring our ancestors to life and speak to a universal human condition we all share. We hope you are moved by our music.