Chidori No Kyoku
Aki No Koto No Ha
Satomi Saeki and Alcvin Takegawa Ramos bring the subtle sounds of traditional Japanese music to the contemporary world. Saeki plays koto, the 13-string horizontal harp; Ramos plays the shakuhachi, a vertical flute made of bamboo. The album features three pieces for solo koto, two works for shakuhachi, and three duets. The musicians are Japanese natives, but they are based in western Canada, and their interpretations sometimes reflect that fact. For instance, “Seki Setsu,” for solo shakuhachi, is a quiet reflection on the natural beauty of British Columbia. (If some of these tracks put you in a deeply relaxed state, it’s not by accident: the shakuhachi has traditionally been used by Zen Buddhist monks as a sort of meditation device.) And “Rokudan,” one of the album's duets, dates from the 17th century, but the performers play two of its movements at quicker tempi to reflect the pace of contemporary life. The Saeki and Takegawa Ramos original, “Fuyu Momiji,” was inspired by the color of a Maple leaf in winter and it makes for a fitting cross-cultural closer.