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David Darling

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David Darling was a world-renowned cellist, composer, improviser, and educator whose lengthy career included numerous solo albums blending chamber jazz, modern classical, and new age, as well as film scores and session work for pop and country artists. Active as a member of the Nashville Symphony Orchestra and the Paul Winter Consort during the 1970s, his first album on his own was 1980's Journal October: Solo Cello. He released collaborations with fellow ECM-signed artists like Terje Rypdal and Ketil Bjørnstad, in addition to releasing atmospheric solo efforts for the label such as 1995's Dark Wood. His 21st century work, often for new age labels like Hearts of Space, was often specifically designed for massage and relaxation, with other albums like 2009's Grammy-winning Prayer for Compassion and 2019's Homage to Kindness offering messages of peace and equality. Starting as a child, Darling displayed facility with many different instruments and styles of music; he began with piano at age four, moved to cello six years later, and played string bass in his high school band (while also serving as bandleader). After finishing his studies in classical cello at Indiana State College in 1965, Darling stayed on as an instructor for four more years. Darling moved to Nashville in 1970 and joined the Paul Winter Consort as a soloist, composer, and singer, additionally serving as principal cellist with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra. He worked as a studio musician with country and rock artists including Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, and Jerry Lee Lewis. He began collaborating with Ralph Towner of Oregon, appearing on 1979's Old Friends, New Friends and later founding the chamber jazz group Gallery. Darling's debut album, Journal October: Solo Cello, was released by ECM in 1980. Darling additionally played on albums by Glen Moore, Spyro Gyra, and John Clark, in addition to releasing several cassettes as part of the group Radiance. Darling collaborated with guitarist Terje Rypdal on the 1984 LP Eos. He founded Music for People, an organization encouraging self-expression through musical improvisation, in 1986. He released the dark, introspective solo album Cello in 1992. His score for the Wim Wenders movie Until the End of the World (also 1992) drew great acclaim, as did his additional solo recordings of that decade, including 1993's The Tao of Cello and Dark Wood, which featured Darling's renowned improvisational skills. At the turn of the century, Darling began recording albums for the Relaxation Company's Musical Massage series. He also recorded Cello Blue for Hearts of Space in 2001. Mihumisa(n)g, a collaboration with singers and musicians from Taiwanese Wulu Bunun tribe, was first issued in 2003, and given a wider release by World Music Network in 2004, as Mudanin Kata. The Darling Conversations, a spoken word recording in which he discusses his music philosophy with Julie Weber, was released in 2007. Prayer for Compassion was issued in 2009, and subsequently won the 2010 Grammy for Best New Age Album. Vallisa, a collaboration with Dakota Suite and Quentin Sirjacq, was released by Glitterhouse in 2010. During the decade, he also released albums with Jane Buttars, Neil Tatar, Silvia Nakkach, and others. Solo album Gratitude was released by Curve Blue in 2016. Parallel Universe, a blend of new age and folk music recorded with Thomasina Levy, was issued by Hearts of Space in 2018, and solo full-length Homage to Kindness appeared on the same label in 2019. Darling died in his sleep on January 8, 2021.
© Paul Simpson & Heather Phares /TiVo
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