Desert Wind

Dateline: June 9, 2000

Desert Wind is a band that combines World Fusion with spirituality. Middle Eastern rhythms are pervasive on the double CD World Dance, while She is a Tree of Life celebrates the mysical side of Judaism. At the center of the band is Alan and Andalin Bachman, who explored their own Jewish heritage while working on that album. Then came Christmas: Rhythms of the Holy Land -- Christmas music from Jewish musicians? I asked Alan and Andalin some questions about how the band got together, their musical influences . . . and, most importantly, what their rabbis think of all of this!

Paula: How and when did Desert Wind get together?

The "Desert Wind" seven piece live performance band of today has evolved over a period of many years and is the synthesis of several musical styles, cultural influences, and a variety of musical experiences. The core performers today are Alan Scott Bachman on keyboards and mandolins and Andalin Bachman on flutes and wind synthesizer. The full band for live performance includes Terence Hansen on guitars, vocalist Jerri Eckert Foote, Buzz Child on trap drums, Brett "Angus" Bowen on congas, dumbeks and assorted percussion instruments, and Berno Danylik on electric and acoustic bass.

Andalin: The short version is that Alan, originally from Rochester, New York, and his friend Bob Dexter started a two-piece band in the 1980's in Portland, Oregon. They called the band "Desert Wind". Alan played keyboards, and Bob Dexter was the dumbek / percussion guy. That was basically a local "happening" until Alan was invited to do an extended "gig" on the Las Vegas Strip during the summer of 1986. He was headed back to Oregon when he was offered a job as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Utah. Guess the Desert Winds kept him in Salt Lake City -- thank heavens!

Alan has written the music and lyrics for most of the many songs which he has produced on nine full length CDs. He has worked with a variety of musicians and singers over the years. Many were referred from out of state to add special touches to his album projects. He invested most of his hard earned money in state of the art recording equipment and studied the art of musical engineering in order to afford the production. Alan spent the majority of his time behind the scenes creating and producing the musical recordings. Every once in a while he emerged with his singers and drummers for a special performance, still under the name of "Desert Wind." These performances were usually by special request, and associated with either new age presenters like Dr. Deepok Chopra and Dr. Wayne Dyer or belly dance organizations like Rakkasah and Kismet. By the time I met him, Alan had four best selling CDs in the world music market and was deep into the production of his next four-CD set!

Alan: Meanwhile, Andalin was supporting her musical "habit" by working as a paralegal. She was making waves as a jazz flutist in the jazz circles of Utah, having won the prestigious Selmer Award for Excellence in Jazz Performance through the National Stage Band Camps in Denver, Colorado, and the Salt Lake Tribune Scholarship for performance at the Intermountain Collegiate Jazz Festival. "Everyone" knew Andalin locally, and she had done a great deal of professional recording, but not exactly what we would call "world music." She was a regular for many years at the local jazz clubs and made appearances at art and jazz festivals throughout the Intermountain West. She was exploring alternative musical styles about the time we met.

That happened the summer of 1996 on the set of the CBS television show "Promised Land." We were both hired as musicians for a special "Music Festival" episode. The really short version is that we were married five weeks later. I introduced Andalin to the new and exotic world rhythms from the Middle East which gave her a chance to use the scales she had been working on. She was a natural in the tribal fusion style which had developed in Desert Wind. Her flute-work was a stunning lift to the whole band.

Andalin: Wow. Thanks, Alan. Then there was my jazz influence on Alan. I was blown away at how quickly Alan picked up the ability to perform jazz standards. As long as he was going to come to my jazz gigs, he may as well sit-in with the group. Before you knew it, we were on the same page. Alan could hang with the best in my jazz circles, and I was enjoying a whole new level of improvisation as the "wind" of Desert Wind. The complete musical merger was inevitable. We each brought artists from our respective pasts together, and today we have a full seven piece performing band consisting of keyboards, flutes, guitars, bass, drums, vocals, and of course, dumbek/congas/percussion (and assorted other "double" instruments.)

We have been going full speed ahead with both recording and performing since we met. And my flute can now be heard on five Desert Wind CDs! A lot was the completion of work Alan had already begun. By the time we got to the "Christmas: Rhythms of the Holy Land," I got to do some serious recording! After a few years of performing at belly dance festivals and special events in places like Portland, San Francisco, Phoenix, and Los Angeles, I was ready to "cut loose." The New Desert Wind is born.

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