Yoshikazu Iwamoto, Traditional Japanese Music

John Schaefer

By John Schaefer

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Iwamoto plays the shakuhachi, the bamboo flute associated with the wandering monks of Japanese Buddhism. While this instrument can be used for other purposes (it's been present on a growing number of contemporary and cross-cultural projects), its core repertoire remains the body of centuries-old meditations known collectively as honkyoku. Perhaps it's appropriate for a Zen tradition that this trance music has little obvious repetition (though there is repetition of individual phrases), and no real intensification during the course of a piece. Which is not to say that this isn't some quietly intense music at times. The shakuhachi is a tool for meditation, and the medium used to go from one state of consciousness to another is the breath. Iwamoto, who lives in Britain and plays modern works too, focuses here on some of the "greatest hits" of the honkyoku music, including "Tsuru No Sugomori" (The Cranes Nesting) and "Reibo."