Shakuhachi Unleashed: Virtuosic revelations for solo shakuhachi and Taimu
June 2, 2016. Opening Night Concert, International Shakuhachi Festival Prague.
Awakening the deepest soul of shakuhachi, honoring and evolving the solo classical Zen Buddhist honkyoku tradition rooted in aliveness, awareness and nature. A 21st century woodwind performance style drawing on rock, blues, metal, Zen and pure energy. This robust bamboo woodwind/flute is known for being evocative and provocative, ethereal, and very difficult to play. The breadth of its breath-powered musicality is brought to you in each of the Shakuhachi Unleashed installments. Each album combines the energy and structure of carefully chosen songs–originals and “cover song” arrangements (rock, metal, blues, and more)–with the inspiring, one-of-a-kind sounds of the shakuhachi and its baritone brother, Taimu.
I am trained in, licensed in and have a deep abiding respect for the central position of honkyoku within the sphere of what solo shakuhachi has been, what it is, and what it shall be on into the future: as a composer, performer and teacher I genuinely look forward to exploring this repertoire for the rest of my breathing time on Earth. However, given that I discovered shakuhachi already deep into my path as a pioneering, polystylistic, high-energy, highly-trained, genre-bending, membrane-stretching woodwind composer-performer–it was almost inevitable that I would not be able to resist diving into some sort of deep and uncharted waters with the bamboos at my side. And so we find ourselves at an outpost called “Shakuhachi Unleashed”, the first volume of which, Holy Flute, has already been called “about the strangest thing I have ever heard in my life” (Glacially Musical, April 24, 2017) and “a kind of musical chimera…a strange beast from a planet at the edge of the shakuhachi’s expanding sonic and cultural universe” (European Shakuhachi Society Journal, 2017-Volume 1) and the second volume of which is in-production at this moment (October 2017).
The common elements are: emotional content (see Bruce Lee’s training scene in Return of the Dragon), soul-based performance, and a commitment to full-blooded collaboration with the jinashi bamboo itself. Beyond all of these colliding stylistic elements already described, we get to explore so many moods, textures, flavors and topics: nature hymns and anthems, theological melodrama, metaphysical illumination, kung fu flute, Buddhist Blues, and beyond.
All performances, compositions and arrangements by Cornelius Boots.
The bamboo – 1.8 jinashi nobekan shakuhachi by Jon Kypros and 2.74 jinashi nobekan Taimu shakuhachi by Ken Mujitsu LaCosse.