-The Beauty of Japan- by Shuya Okino
-The Beauty of Japan-
I made an “Ikebana” flower arrangement at an event at “Kinse Inn” in Kyoto. It was also the stage setting for a duo concert by Ryota Nozaki and Asuka(koto player). “Kinse Inn” is a 100-year-old inn which has a cafe, bar and guest space, and occasionally gives small concerts at the cafe.The owner’s wife is also my Ikebana teacher. When i heard about their show in Kyoto i got in touch with Nozaki and he asked me to make “Ikebana” for their stage.You could say our first collaboration had become a reality.
I was first introduced to Asuka at The Room Shibuya by Kenichi Ikeda(ROOT SOUL) but i hadn’t seen her for a very long time.However Nozaki told me a surprising story.It turns out that before i moved to Kyoto i used to live just 5 minutes walk from Asuka’s house. Not only that.She likes our kind of music, and she and Nozaki have a plan to make an album with traditional Japanese instruments!!
Nozaki, who is also a boogie lover, and i have DJ’ed together at The Room for many years, and i was impressed and amazed by the energy of his latest challenge.I have had a concept of Jazz including Japanese instruments since i had produced a koto and shakuhachi combo in 2009 though, unlike me, Nozaki has already put his plan into practice.
This is Hizuru.The idea that i heard at that time in Kyoto is now the 4th album of Musilogue, a project which has presented various unique sounds by different ensembles.Not only Asuka but also Takeshi Kurihara from KYOTO JAZZ SEXTET appears on this album.What kind of music does it contain?What has this ensemble of Nozaki and traditional Japanese instrument players created?My curiosity was piqued before i listened to it.The beauty of JapanNature and spirit drawn by music. The music played by Hizuru has embodied a vanishing beauty and a beauty we have to inherit.This is indisputably an album which is made by Japanese musicians in a truly Japanese style without any unnecessary gimmicks.Of course, Ryota Nozaki’s ability as a composer is on full display, and there are also parts where a funky drum sound puts in an appearance.Although it’s an extension of past music tradition, it’s not nostalgic but highly universal.The essence of Ryota Nozaki, Toru Nishijima, Arata Inoue and Hatae Takeshi, as a band admirably matches the traditional Japanese music.And undaunted, Shiori Tanabe’s Shakuhachi, Shunsuke Kimura’s Shamisen & Fue and Asuka’s Koto dance with vitality upon the sound of the band.In addition, Takeshi Kurihara and Yurai, who are familiar musicians of Jazztronik, blend smoothly into the harmony.Compared to when i first heard about the idea of Hizuru from Nozaki at “Kinse Inn", the impact of hearing the actual sound of the album was many times greater.A new traditional Japanese music, which perfectly absorbs the influence of jazz and ambient, has been born.Even more than the fusion of traditional Japanese music and jazz in the late 60’s and early 70’s, from Hozan Yamamoto to Charlie Mariano, I think the challenge of Ryota Nozaki entering the “pure” Japanese music tradition could be a turning point in Japanese music history.
That day, though i made Ikebana with an image of apprentice geisha “Maiko”, i struggled to balance their music with my own expression using a vase and driftwood. Because Ikebana too is one of the modern arts.In retrospect it can be said that the affinity of piano and koto, no, of Nozaki and Asuka, predicted the quality of this album. Not only to see the concert at “Kinse Inn” in Kyoto, but also to have the opportunity to literally decorate it with flowers, was a great honor.To be asked to write these liner notes on top of all that feels like destiny.I’m looking forward to being with you all again. And i hope to have the opportunity to see Hizuru’s live performance as soon as possible.
Shuya Okino（KYOTO JAZZ MASSIVE/KYOTO JAZZ SEXTET)