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Ned Rothenberg's shakuhachi CD: a review

 
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clivebell
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PostPosted: 2011-12-06, 22:42    Post subject: Ned Rothenberg's shakuhachi CD: a review Reply with quote

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Ned Rothenberg
Ryu Nashi/No School - New Music for Shakuhachi
Tzadik CD (2010)
The story of non-Japanese players extending what can be done with the shakuhachi is an interesting one. Here is an album featuring three of the best of those players, that can almost act as a kind of benchmark for how far this story has reached. It showcases New York-based Ned Rothenberg in a trio of roles, as performer, improviser and composer. Rothenberg is internationally active on sax and clarinet, associated with John Zorn and the New York downtown scene. I’ve heard him play recently in the UK in the company of Evan Parker’s saxophone, and also alongside Ikue Mori’s laptop wizardry. This record is the product of what he calls a thirty year romance with “a most fickle partner”, the shakuhachi.
Rothenberg studied in Japan with both Goro Yamaguchi and Katsuya Yokoyama, and his Ryu Nashi/No School title is a protest against the straitjacket of the Japanese schools system, as well as an embracing of his outsider status. But a non-Japanese player can be informed by the vast tradition of this instrument without necessarily feeling restricted or oppressed by it. This seems to be the case for Rothenberg, whose improvising and composing take traditional material as a starting point, and then launch off into a musical freedom that feels all the more liberated for being rooted in thorough training. “Emergent Vessel” is the opening solo on a 2.4 flute: Rothenberg sticks to a melodic centre but plays with shifting timbres - a variety of Honkyoku-inspired husky attacks and subtle phrase endings. “Naki Tokoro Nite” is a Rothenberg composition, played by Ralph Samuelson on a 1.8, with Yoko Hiraoka on shamisen. Hiraoka sings two tanka poems, and Rothenberg parallels the rhythmic irregularity of the poetry by writing in a variety of time signatures and syncopations.
“Dan No Tabi” is another duet, this time for Stephanie Griffin’s eloquent viola and Riley Lee on three different length flutes. The atmosphere is largely lyrical, even ghostly at times. Rothenberg avoids the pitfall of over-dramatic writing. In fact one of the most attractive features of this record is how his writing is always idiomatic to the shakuhachi. “If I want the fleet angular, capabilities of a flute or a clarinet, I will play those instruments, not an ungainly end-blown bamboo flute with just five holes,” writes Rothenberg on his website. Maybe this record should be compulsory listening for composers thinking of writing for the instrument.
The dark entwining of viola and 2.7 flute is a delight, but the final two tracks are also very strong. First another Rothenberg solo, still tonal but more unlaced than before. Then “Cloud Hands”, a duet with Riley Lee, a pair of 2.4 flutes shadowing each other in melodic canon, then moving off into improvisation. The darker and more ‘lost’ they sound, the better I like it.
Clive Bell
More info: http://www.nedrothenberg.com/shakuhachi.html
http://www.tzadik.com/
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Kiku Day
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PostPosted: 2011-12-07, 10:17    Post subject: Ned Rothenberg's shakuhachi CD: a review Reply with quote

Cool! Thank you for this! I think I better get this CD. Sounds great!
Yes, I met Ned after his concert at the Southbank Centre where he played with Carlos Zingaro - among others.
He is an extraordinary musician!
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Perry Yung
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PostPosted: 2011-12-07, 14:47    Post subject: Ned Rothenberg's shakuhachi CD: a review Reply with quote

clivebell wrote:
Ned Rothenberg
Ryu Nashi/No School - New Music for Shakuhachi
Tzadik CD (2010)

...Rothenberg studied in Japan with both Goro Yamaguchi and Katsuya Yokoyama, and his Ryu Nashi/No School title is a protest against the straitjacket of the Japanese schools system, as well as an embracing of his outsider status. But a non-Japanese player can be informed by the vast tradition of this instrument without necessarily feeling restricted or oppressed by it. This seems to be the case for Rothenberg, whose improvising and composing take traditional material as a starting point, and then launch off into a musical freedom that feels all the more liberated for being rooted in thorough training.../[/url]



Hi Clive, Thanks for the spot on review! This CD has been in or near my player since I first got it. I'd like to add that the engineering is top notch. I was amazed at how rich the shakuhachi sounded, revealing in all its tone colors.

It's awesome. Okay

Thanks again, Perry
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Mahler
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PostPosted: 2011-12-11, 22:10    Post subject: Ned Rothenberg's shakuhachi CD: a review Reply with quote

I just downloaded it and am happy with the results.Thanks for the review Clive.

James
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mattrn
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PostPosted: 2011-12-16, 20:11    Post subject: Ned Rothenberg's shakuhachi CD: a review Reply with quote

I'm gonna have to check out itunes...
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PostPosted: Today at 19:14    Post subject: Ned Rothenberg's shakuhachi CD: a review

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