Posts Tagged ‘ Koto ’

Yukiko Matsuyama – Crème Brulée

The koto, a 13-string zither or harp like instrument, originated in China and came to Japan in the 7th-8th century. Today, it is the national instrument of Japan. The koto isn’t unknown in the world of smooth jazz. The most popular band with the koto as lead instrument is certainly Hiroshima.

Osaka, Japan born Yukiko Matsuyama was classically trained in this instrument from age 9. Since 1993 Yukiko lives in Los Angeles and was influenced by Western styles like jazz, new age, pop and world music. Although her music runs under the label world music, she is melting these styles with the traditional Japanese koto music.

Yukiko presents on her album Crème Brulée ten original compositions. She is supported by Diana Dentino (piano & keyboards), Greg Vail (sax & flute), Vince Van Trigt (bass), Mike Bennett (drums & percussion), and furthermore Daniel Mulliken (cello), David Brock ( violin & viola), Chris Darrow (guitar), Dave Wood (guitar), and Michael Kotzen (cajon).

Stimulated by her own self-effacing humor Yukiko introduces into her music with the title What Is Zat? Don’t await scaring Asian hymns. Yukiko’s instrument is integrated into smooth jazz and performed in a truly American style.

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Yukiko Matsuyama – Crème Brulée

Yukiko Matsuyama’s new release, Crème Brulée, is a joyful blend of Smooth Jazz and World music that will excite & delight! Japanese Koto with traditional western instruments, the Koto Yuki Band beautifully executes 10 original compositions by Matsuyama. Greg Vail’s soulful sax blends joyously with Yukiko’s Koto. Note: this is not your traditional “relaxation / meditation” Koto CD. You’ll find yourself taking this with you in the car, on bike rides, and wherever you want to feel the positive vibrations of happy music.

The band features Diana Dentino – piano & keyboards, Greg Vail – sax & flute, Vince VanTrigt – bass, Mike Bennett – drums & percussion, with help from Daniel Mulliken – cello, David Brock – violin & viola, Chris Darrow – guitar, Dave Wood – guitar, & Michael Kotzen – cajon. Crème Brulée is now on sale at CDBaby.

Hiroshima – Legacy

Sometimes music is touching me so deep, that I must spread the word like a herald. Hiroshima‘s new album Legacy is motivating and pushing me into this direction. I use the old world herald in full conscience. It’s the melting of old traditional Japanese with modern jazz instruments which makes Hiroshima’s music somehow antique in the sense of an “old master”, a term for an European painter of skill who worked before about 1800, or a painting by such a painter. Equally their music is so modern and unique that one cannot compare their Asian-American jazz fusion with the music of any other group.

The new album is a collection of songs from Hiroshima’s first musical decade. The songs were not taken from the previous albums but re-recorded by the band’s current lineup, the founders Dan (sax) and June Kuramoto (koto), joined by taiko drummer/percussionist Shoji Kameda, drummer/percussionist Danny Yamamoto, keyboardist Kimo Cornwell and bassist Dean Cortez. Further guest musicians are Terry Steele, Jim Gilstrap and Yvette Nii (vocals), Richie Gajate Garcia (percussion) and the string arrangements of maestro George del Barrio.

“When you start looking back at fifteen records over thirty years, that’s a lot of material to choose from, ” comments Dan Kuramato. “So we narrowed the scope to the first ten years, which includes five records – two of which were gold. We tracked everything live in my home studio for this new recording, with almost no overdubs. In many cases, the songs on this record are fairly similar to the originals. In some cases, they\’re very different.”

The album starts with the GRAMMY nominated Winds Of Change from Hiroshima’s album Odori (1980). The new recorded version is more orchestral and focused on the ancient Japanese instruments. Mighty taiko drums are underlining the modern drum beat. Dan’s fabulous sax is shimmering over the ancient sound.

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