Saturday, March 13, 2010


"I produced this recording a couple of weeks ago (August 2006) at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, Ca. Okuda is the most unusual shakuhachi player living in Japan today. The closet person that you compare him to is the late and great Wadazumidoso. The instruments used by both players are shakuhachi more like the original form of the instrument; with a raw unfinished interior, and often of a much larger size deemed: hotchiku. Okuda is much more concerned with improvisation and sound than all the rest of the mainstream shakuhachi players in Japan put together. His sonic sensibility and taste is much more like that of a free improvisor than of a classical musician of any particular traditional school. On this recording engineer Stephen Hart and I managed to capture Okuda at a peak performance moment. We experimented a lot with different microphone setups and devised a system that yielded the best recording of a shakuhachi that my ears have ever heard. While Okuda plays traditional pieces here, what he does with them is quite OUT and quite wild, in a quiet Zen way. I get the feeling that Okuda could knock over a building with his shakuhachi, if he wanted to. It's kind of like a magical, super power thing. Like Evan Parker's Monoceros or The Snake Decides, this is a landmark recording of a solo wind instrument. I felt that I was very, very fortunate to be involved here." - Henry Kaiser

"Although Okuda mainly plays the traditional repertoire, honkyoku, played by the komuso, the Zen Buddhist monks of the Fuke sect, his music is always evolving and changing, the sign of a living tradition. His belief is that each piece and each note is complete in itself, and that one must set the mind in a state in which there is no audience and no performer. Each note is approached with originality as if it played for the first time – from this stance the union of new and old emerges. From this perspective, the sounds produced by the jinashi shakuhachi helps us, according to Okuda, to transcend music itself and unite with the universe." - Kiku Day