Tom Mauchahty-Ware

Published on July 23, 2012 by Amy

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Tom Mauchahty-Ware
Tom Mauchahty-Ware

This Native American artist has shown impressive versatility in his recording career, performing with energy, vitality, and spiritual depth in several different genres. Fans of tranquil Indian flute music will know him from several recordings he made in this style beginning in the late ’70s.

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In contrast to the meditative, pensive nature of the flute music, Mauchahty-Ware has collaborated with drummer, singer, bandleader, and producer Millard Clark on a whole series of recordings featuring songs with English lyrics, including the memorable “To Hell With Your Old Man.” But although this attitude may seem a world apart from the image of a lone man standing on top of a butte playing a flute, the two forms of expression sometimes have a similar goal. In the actual social context of the flute in Sioux tradition, the flute was considered an instrument for courting and was played by men only, while the powwow and 49 songs Clark and Mauchahty-Ware have recorded are also often songs of flirting or courting.

Mauchahty-Ware is a descendent of Belo Cozad, a well-known Kiowa flute player of the older generation, and his father was Wilson Ware, a fancy dance champion and powwow singer of considerable reputation who died in 1961. Hardly one to ignore tradition, one of Mauchahty-Ware’s projects has been the formation of the Wilson Ware Memorial Singers and the recording of an album dedicated to his father. Mauchahty-Ware initially began releasing recordings commercially with his Flute Songs of the Kiowa and Comanche in 1978, followed five years later with The Traditional and Contemporary Indian Flute of Tom Mauchahty-Ware. His style of playing on the flute is delicate, his breath control enabling him to have a decisive control of the microtonal universe available to a flutist who can sharpen or flatten at will. He plays tunes with melodies evocative of various aspects of love, consisting of adaptations of various Southern plains social dance songs and hymns. He also plays compositions he has written himself, some of them derived from dreams or inspired by the movements and sounds of birds. One of his most fascinating pieces is “Hummingbird Song,” and he really goes to work here with all manner of flute techniques such as vibrato, flutter-tonguing, and breath control, all more than suggestive of that tiny bird’s hyperdrive fluttering of its wings.

He has also been involved in recordings of powwow music and other Native American genres involving singing and drumming since the mid-’80s. The Indian Sounds recording Kiowa Flag Songs features Ware as a member of a singing group led by Millard Clark, also featuring relatives of Mauchahty-Ware’s such as Bill Ware and Pearl Pewo Ware. Mauchahty-Ware also is identified under only as Tom Ware on releases from this period. Recordings from the ’90s, such as 49 and Round Dance Songs With English Lyrics series, feature him in duo with Clark, the partners holding forth on a variety of subjects from the sublime to the appetizing. The best example of the latter would be “The Pizza Song.” Mauchahty-Ware also plays in a blues group called Blues Nation which has produced several recordings.

Mauchahty-Ware is an extremely busy performer, his activities including many different types of arts and music festivals in the U.S. and Europe, but not limited to that type of event by any means. He has performed for beauty pageants, football games, and even an alligator wrestling show. He has been involved as a collaborator in dance theater, and has also recorded several soundtracks for films such as HBO’s Last of the Caddos and the music for the ABC mini-series Son of the Morningstar. ~ Eugene Chadbourne, Rovi

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