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Cornelius Boots: CD review

 
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clivebell
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PostPosted: 2012-01-16, 14:51    Post subject: Cornelius Boots: CD review Reply with quote

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Cornelius Boots
Mukyoku: Pieces For Taimu Shakuhachi
http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/corneliusboots

“Renegade Nature Music” is how Cornelius Boots characterises his set of 13 pieces for Taimu shakuhachi – these are large, raw bamboo hocchiku made by Ken LaCosse. Boots and LaCosse are both located in San Francisco, and both like the “mu” word, meaning emptiness in the Zen tradition. LaCosse calls his flutes “mujitsu”, while Boots’s compositions are “mukyoku”. Other things that Boots likes include Yoda from Star Wars (on the CD cover the flap-eared guru stands by a flute root-end), Iron Maiden, Peter Gabriel, Mississippi blues singer Junior Kimborough (1930-98), and Kung Fu Panda. They’re all welcome and embraced by Boots as he compiles his compositions. Though to be fair there are no Iron Maiden cover versions here: for that you need Boots’s other project, his bass clarinet quartet called Edmund Welles.
Boots is a student of Michael Chikuzen Gould, and here he plays four lengths of hocchiku, from 2.45 to 2.8. These giant bamboos he terms “the cello or Barry White of the shakuhachi world.” The album is intended to stand alone as a musical statement, but it also forms part of Boots’s project of composing 27 graded studies for developing flute technique. Some are inspired by honkyoku, while “Purgatory” (with its nod to the Iron Maiden song of the same name) is one of several pieces in a blues idiom, written after playing along with Kimborough’s recordings. “The Mysteries Of Harmony And Focus” is a ‘Kung Fu blues’, that takes its tongue-in-cheek cue from a talking turtle in Kung Fu Panda. There are a couple of duets, and “Doppelganger” employs ‘expanded techniques’: turning the flute backwards, and blowing across finger holes. All are available as beautifully written scores in honkyoku style, with copious notes and advice (on life as much as flute playing) from the composer. Boots’s occasional use of circular breathing, and his love of metal rock, calls for comparison with Akikazu Nakamura, whose group Kokoo (shakuhachi and two kotos) used to tackle “Tarkus” by Emerson, Lake & Palmer.
“The Taimu likes for you to approach it more as a force of nature and less as a musical instrument,” writes Boots in his introduction. It’s an interesting question when listening to the album: how much is this simply music, and how much breathing exercise, meditation, training procedure or a way of life? In this sense, for all his melange of Tibetan mysticism and the TV series Danger Man, Boots is drawing us right back into the honkyoku tradition, where the question, “Is this music?” may lead to asking “What is music really for?”
There’s no doubt that Boots can really play, but I have reservations about the album. The sound is close-miked and harsh, an over-detailed presence in a smallish room. The hocchiku’s characteristic grainy texture, bristling with harmonics, is certainly captured, but it’s not easy to relax into. For some reason the flute sounds in a hurry, reluctant to pause between phrases, and too many pieces are in the same unvarying medium tempo. Not enough mu in the music? As a jinashi shakuhachi teaching project, the Mukyoku project is serious and thorough, but as a listening experience the album feels a little rushed, and less convincing than Imagination Lost, Boots’s new clarinet quartet album.
Clive Bell

Hear and buy the album:
http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/corneliusboots

Cornelius Boots’s Mukyoku project:
http://www.mujitsu.com/mukyoku/

Cornelius Boots’s bass clarinet quartet, Edmund Welles:
http://www.edmundwelles.com/

Kokoo play Purple Haze:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3szEMtPdq5o

Ken LaCosse flutes:
http://www.mujitsu.com/
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mattrn
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PostPosted: 2012-01-20, 17:52    Post subject: Cornelius Boots: CD review Reply with quote

I enjoyed reading your review Clive. I haven't heard the CD yet, although I saw a copy in Ken's workshop. I would make one tiny point though. Taimu shakuhachi are wide-bore, large, deep-toned instruments, but as I understand the term they are not necessarily hocchiku. I believe that term refers to instruments with no ji inside at all. I think most of Ken's shakuhachi would more properly be described as jinashi. I'm saving up for one myself. It might take a while...
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clivebell
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PostPosted: 2012-01-20, 18:33    Post subject: Cornelius Boots: CD review Reply with quote

Thanks for that Matt. Ji whiz!
I admit I get confused by all those terms.
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Brian Tairaku Ritchie
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PostPosted: 2012-01-20, 22:45    Post subject: Cornelius Boots: CD review Reply with quote

clivebell wrote:
Thanks for that Matt. Ji whiz!
I admit I get confused by all those terms.


Hahahahahahahahahahaha! Okay Wink Rolling Eyes Mad Sad Smile Very Happy Evil or Very Mad Cool Shocked Confused

I don't know what hocchiku means exactly but Taimu are heavily influenced by them, I know that because we originally modelled them on one by Gudo Ishibashi, who was making his flutes in order to play Watazumi music. After the first couple turned out well, Ken continued to push them further in some ways until they became more original...........

Ishibashi's flutes usually have no utaguchi inlay and one coat of urushi. I don't know if the one coat stops them from being hocchiku.

There is another discussion going on elsewhere in the forum about whether or not "kyotaku" are like other jinashi. Now whether Taimu are like hottchiku, no wonder everybody is confused. Mr. Green Arrow Idea Exclamation Question

Some Taimu are different than all other jinashi I've played and I know what the differences are and some are similar to other jinashi I've played. This statement probably doesn't help.
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Kiku Day
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PostPosted: 2012-01-21, 08:26    Post subject: Cornelius Boots: CD review Reply with quote

I agree it IS confusing.
I like to think they are all variations of one thing whether people then prefer to use the name hotchiku, jinashi, kyotaku or the like. I would not be able to define and differentiate them myself....
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Cornelius Boots
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PostPosted: 2012-01-25, 01:00    Post subject: Cornelius Boots: CD review Reply with quote

Thanks for the write-up Clive! A good excuse for me to discover and join the online fray here Twisted Evil
Let's face it: Taimu are like hocchiku with big balls...uh, finger holes. Anyway, as Tairaku can attest, playing them tells you more than discussing them. Listening can tell you that player's version of what they feel like...

I should also confess to 2 things:
1) I do have a "close-miking" fetish. As a former audio engineer, somehow I prefer the very up close sounds of instruments (probably because it sounds like what we hear as players, maybe?), it is kind of an acquired taste like really burnt dark coffee or the more extreme barrel-aged imperial stouts and porters that I enjoy so much. It is not for everyone: in fact, I had a discussion/argument on the phone about this very topic with Mr. Tom Waits. Probably, he won, but neither of us changed our minds...but that's another tale. Either way, that was an intentional decision when recording these "learning" pieces. Not to say I will always choose this method...

2) For a year after the mukyoku instructional scores and recordings were completed, I did not give a proper release to this album, mostly due to some of the elements of it that Clive points out. Primarily, usually I like to conceive of a whole album-arc/concept for any album I do, but this one is more of a selected cataloging of the "best of" the 27 mukyoku compositions, in numerical order, without overall album structure considerations. But, after a year of listening to it off and on, I thought "This collection here still has something useful to offer" and so I hope it does.

Lastly, I hope it is not too out of line to mention here again that these pieces are great fun to read on any size shakuhachi, disirregardless [is so a word] of ji status or length, and there are pieces from beginner to moderately advanced difficulty levels.

Thanks again, Clive!

RO on,
cb
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CharlesKoeppen
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PostPosted: 2012-01-25, 18:56    Post subject: Cornelius Boots: CD review Reply with quote

Cornelius Boots wrote:

Let's face it: Taimu are like hocchiku with big balls...uh, finger holes. Anyway, as Tairaku can attest, playing them tells you more than discussing them. Listening can tell you that player's version of what they feel like...



Welcome Mr. Boots! Your statement sums up Taimu well.

I've got one. Once you get past the difficulties in hand placement and get the finger holes covered they are an incredible experience to play. I think mine is made of Chinese Madake though, so it had a lower price tag than most. I don't know how many of those Ken made or if he is still making them.
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