Over the years, Zendik music assumed many forms, as players and instruments were added and subtracted from the mix. After the birth of her daughter, Fawn, in 1976, Arol continued to play, but only on and off, as demands for the day-to-day running of Zendik Farm grew by leaps and bounds. Her passion for gardening, farming and numerous forms of visual and social aesthetics also emerged during this time. She continued to work with Wulf on various aspects of the music, sometimes accompanying him, but mostly offering her critiques and keen-eyed artistic perspective.
In 1998, Zendik music entered a period of crisis. Wulf, who had led the music for more than twenty-five years-and was its vocalist and creative lifeline-was in the midst of a long, ultimately deadly battle with emphysema, and although he would still record on his own as his strength allowed, he no longer played or recorded with the young musicians at Zendik. Artistically and emotionally, this left a tremendous void for those musicians, all of whom were apprenticed to Zendik improvisation, and needed guidance if they were to move forward. It also left a void for Arol, who had spent years of her life in the improvisational process, and understood it from a uniquely firsthand point of view. The situation remained unresolved for months, as various Zendiks tried and failed as potential new vocalists.
Then, at the age of sixty, Arol stepped in. Realizing that no one else was capable of taking on the musical responsibility, she decided to guide the band using spoken word, a vocal form she was familiar with. Initially, she faced serious challenges. In the time since Wulf had been directly involved, newer musicians had entered the band. They were technically skilled in some cases, but they lacked any experience in cooperative art, and brought with them the generally competitive mindset of musicians in mainstream culture. Reflexively, they attacked each other, and they attacked her, perceiving her as a threat to their band. Arol's experience as an artist extended back over forty years, including her time spent accompanying Wulf, and her knowledge of the improvisational process far outstripped anything known by these young performers. In a lifetime filled with creativity, she had learned how to pour herself into any new endeavor with passion and total commitment.
Although she was brand new to vocal art, Arol had quickly gone from spoken word to improvised singing, and was in the difficult position of having to learn in the most public of ways: amplified, in live performance, with no cushion whatsoever from written lyrics or music. As was the case in her other artforms, she first laboriously, methodically personalized the process to her own needs and desires. She wasn't interested in imitating any known vocal style or particular singer, and had to learn her own capabilities by doing-experimenting with her range and approach. In the beginning, this meant that she simply didn't sound very good. There was much outside criticism, as well, and she took it in stride, although much of it was crude and unfriendly. She listened because she was an artist, and knew that an accurate critique can come in any form, at any time.
But something else was happening, as well. From the very beginning, singing changed Arol. Combining lyrics and melody on the spot-improvising from the split-second flash of her imagination-she found she could access parts of herself she had never dreamed of, depths of imagery and emotion that captivated her, moved her. Although she knew that she was technically weak, she also knew that she was hooked, driven to explore this powerful new form of expression. Where her supporting players found shortcoming and inability, they were in fact witnessing an act of extreme artistic courage, as Arol transformed herself before their eyes in the act of performing or recording.
In the space of a few months, it became apparent that she was creating something unprecedented. The imagery emerging in song-drawn from six decades lived close to the edge of life-was filled with feeling and unsuspected connections, calling upon memories and associations that struck a profoundly human chord. She was singing from her own hard-won wisdom, but that wisdom told a universal story, summoned from common human experiences and channeled intuitively through her artist's heart and mind. In this ritual, her voice-unknown to her just a short time before-became irrevocably hers, evolving rapidly into an instrument of brilliance and subtle beauty, revealing a wealth of emotional territory.
For five years, Arol has continually explored that territory, making new discoveries at the border between the conscious and unconscious. Over the course of five full-length albums, she has taken improvisation to a new level, combining moment-to-moment creation with a life's ethic of compassion, caring and unswerving will. Her singing-atonal, lush, majestic-is simply timeless-a living testament to a living philosophy, made manifest through the power and grace of art.
Check out the artist's website:
2. Go Easy My Heart
3. Morning Star
4. Where Did Your Moment Go
5. Who Loved The Wind ?
6. Forgot My Name
7. This One Time
8. Playa's Song
9. Golden Days