Originally recorded as a live improvisation with Robert Kyle on flute, Derek Wright on oud, and Nininho on elú (a hand drum from Pernambuco, Brazil) in Los Angeles, CA on 2012-09-16. The raw take was nearly 15:20 in total duration. Derek edited this down to 6:53 (including harvesting the out-of-time oud introduction for a future release), composed the Pernambucano percussion arrangement (based on various versions of ijexá/afoxé combined with elements of maracatu bate livre). Derek overdubbed the percussion parts at The Alchemy Castle in Hollywood, CA during two sessions: gonguê track on 2014-11-16 and everything else (snare/caixa, alfaias, agbês) on 2014-11-20. These overdub sessions were an interesting challenge because there was no click track in the original recording, and the trio was gradually pushing the tempo at various times during the improvisation (an effect that was only magnified while editing down the piece to a more manageable size).
The primary rhythm used by the elú drum is a Nagô interpretation of the rhythm ijexá. The oud regularly references one of the agogô (bell) patterns played for ijexá: (HH-L,-LL-,H-H-,L-L-). Ijexá is regularly played for Oxúm, the Yoruba orixa of fresh water and love. She often dances holding a mirror, sometimes to admire herself, but also holding it out for everyone to see themselves. I particularly appreciate this aspect of Oxúm, and love generally: the invitation for self-reflection and inner work. "River Reflection" can also be reflection and contemplation by the side of a river, the image reflected in the river surface itself, a contemplation of a river, and so on.
This song is part of the soundtrack for Not Without Us, an important documentary film about climate change and the people-power it's going to take to do something positive about it. The world-premiere is 2016-04-20 at the SF Green Film Festival.