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Healing the Divide ()

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Healing the Divide is a non-profit foundation founded by actor, humanitarian, and Tibetan Buddhist practitioner Richard Gere. The foundation, according to the liner notes, is "...dedicated to collaborative solutions to humanitarian crises that threaten the development and welfare of marginalized communities throughout the world." Fair enough. In the case of this CD, proceeds are dedicated to providing health insurance for Tibetan nuns and monks living in exile. The concert was held at Avery Fisher Hall in 2003. Performers on this disc include the Gyuto Tantric Choir from the from oldest monastery in Tibet (now exiled in India) since the Chinese occupation, Anoushka Shankar, daughter of Ravi, playing Indian classical music, Nawang Ketchog (a former Tibetan Monk) in collaboration with Native American historian, teacher, and traditional musician R. Carlos Nakai; Philip Glass with Foday Musa Suso, reprising their great partnership from the last century; and Tom Waits with bassist Greg Cohen and the Kronos Quartet. After some introductory remarks by Gere and His Holiness the Dalai Lama, each performer gets a single selection, which provides an interesting array of world music. But the real treat is Waits with his collaborators, who perform four selections over nearly 18 minutes, including "Way Down in the Hole," "God's Away on Business," "Lost in the Harbor," and the album's true treasure, a saloon song called "Diamond in Your Mind." The rest of the music here is nothing short of compelling and interesting. The Waits set walks the line between Brechtian theater, beatnik vulgarity, and the twisted humor of Lenny Bruce and creepy glee of Rod Serling. The textures added by Cohen and the Kronos add so much and bring Waits back to true basics sonically. His requisite jokes -- which really are hilarious -- pepper the introduction to each song. The cause is a good one, and the Waits' tunes make it worth the purchase to be sure, but there's another possible benefit besides good karma: being able to discover in a unique context music by the other artists here who may intrigue you enough to seek out more lengthy efforts by each of them. ~ Thom Jurek, Rovi Hide synopsis

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