Wood flute player Jeff Ball was born and brought up in Rockville, MD, where he listened to pop, smooth jazz, and instrumental and soundtrack music. He first became interested in the harmonica, but then attended a powwow and developed a fascination for the Native American wood flute. Ball was not a Native American himself, having descended primarily from Scots-Irish ancestors, but claims "according to family legend, a few drops of Indian blood, just enough to help me play wood flute." He acquired a wood flute in 1992 and came under the influence of Douglas Spotted Eagle, R. Carlos Nakai, and Tsane Dose. In 1994, he published the book [RoviLink="BW"]Trailhead of the American Indian Courting Flute, which included a recording.
Ball's first formal album, locally distributed around his Maryland home, was Dancing in the Wind, a solo recording. Mixed Blood, his first disc with national distribution, added bass by his brother Randy Ball and other instruments. Reverence, released in 1999, was followed by the solo recording Windtamer in 2000. Cedar Moon, issued later the same year, was a winner at the Native American Music Awards in the "Native Heart" category. Ball added guitarist Sennen Quigley and percussionist Ted Natale to create a contemporary extension of the traditional Native American wood flute sound. Prairie Runner (2002) featured the group Walela on vocals and contained a cover of Steve Miller's "Fly Like an Eagle." In 2003, Ball released the seasonal album Songs of Winter. Highlights from his past releases plus two new songs comprised the soundtrack to the 2005 film [RoviLink="VW"]Return to Balance: A Climber's Journey. The soundtrack album Return to Balance appeared the same year. Ball's 2007 album The Shape of Light was performed by his band, including the recently introduced percussion instrument the hang played by Natale and by Ron Kravitz. ~ William Ruhlmann
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