The Magic Dragon
Popular and talented koto player, Yoko Nishi studied under Tadao and Kazue Sawai, and has since gone on to become one of Japan's most creative koto players performing around the world. Follow up to the critically acclaimed, and popular CD with Far Side customers, Sea in a Moonlit Might. On this album Yoko Nishi plays koto and seventeen stringed koto accompanied by Christopher Hardy (percussion) and Jonathan Katz (piano). As well as a cover of the Peter, Paul and Mary song ( a big favourite in Japan) are two of her original tunes with all tracks arranged by Yoko Nishi.
1. Aoi Mori - Nanatsu no Yume 2. Arigato 3. Puff (The Magic Dragon) 4. Inspiration 5. Chico Chico No Fuva 6. El Chocro 7. Kumanbachi no Boken
Shingo Edo Collection - Kuon no Daichi
Five compositions written by koto player and composer Shingo Edo and performed by various koto and shakuhachi players including Miki Maruta, Yoko Nishi, Shozan Tanabe and Ryozan Sakata. The track Minyo Kumikyoku Akita is a medley of four minyo tunes from Akita, and Kuon no Daichi is a koto concerto written to develop relationships between Japan and Brazil at the request of Yoko Nishi.
1. Hanagasa Skertuo 2. Ruri no Sorani 3. Minyo Kumikyoku Akita 4. Gekkou 5. Koto Concerto no Tame no Kuon no Daichi
La Brisa is a trio under the leadership of guitarist Minoru Kato with three koto/seventeen stringed koto players, Keiko Otani, Mika Noda and Kuniko Obina. Shakuhachi player Ryozan Sakata also features.
1. Heart Strings 2. Caccini's Ave Maria 3. Rock Dan 4. Takerou 5. Volare 6. Bara no Serenade 7. Kyoso Kyoku Part 3, Hyuga Tosa Higo no Esprit
Yutaka Makino Works 1
Several of Japan's leading koto and shakuhachi players perform the works of the late composer Yutaka Makino, one of the most important composers of modern koto music. Musicians are Tomoko Sunazaki (koto), Yuko Yamazaki (koto), Atsuko Kida (koto, seventeen stringed koto), Noriko Matsuzaka (koto, seventeen stringed koto), Norihiro Ishikawa (twenty stringed koto), Kuniyoshi Sugawara (shakuhachi), Chikuzan Nanba (shakuhachi), Reizan Tanabe (shakuhachi), Norie Tomobuchi (vocal, koto).
1. Hitori Shizuka 2. Sake 3. Manyo eno Izanai 4. Fumon 5. Kojo no Tsuki Genso-kyoku
Manyo no Koi Uta (Love Songs Inspired by Manyo Period)
Koto player and singer performs five contemporary tunes and one traditional. Recorded live at Takasaki City Gallery, Gunma Prefecture.
1. Manyo no Koi Uta Ashihiki No 2. Manyo no Koi Uta Ware Wo Matsu To 3. Renku Kotouta Ban 4. Hatsune no Kyoku 5. Two People Under a Tree 6. Autumn Koto - Another Requiem
Currently, making a big splash in the world of traditional music. First solo album by koto and shamisen player. Original material with a variety of influences and instruments. The title track is a collaboration with violinist Yuriko Mukoujima, Mimi Hamu Sakana is based on Javanese dance, while Kaze ga Omote de Yondeiru, was written by well known composer Yuji Takahashi. Etsuko Takezawa plays koto, shamisen and 17 stringed koto. Guest musicians are Akira Sakata (sax, vocal), Fumio Itabashi (piano), Yuriko Mukoujima (violin) and Natsumi Sagusa (kumana).
1.Hechima 2. Han 3. Kaze ga Omotede Yondeiru 4. Hi.ka.ri 4. Kaze ga Omotede Yondeiru 5. Mimi Hamu Sakana 6. Ano Hi E No Michinori
Collection of Toshihiko Mizuno Compositions - New Music for Koto, Shakuhachi, 17 Stringed Koto
Tenth album from leading composer and player of Koto. Toshihiko Mizuno performs on the koto together with four other artists including Tomoko Nomura, Atsuko Kida (17 stringed koto), Ryozan Sakata and Shozan Tanabe (shakuhachi). Wonderful album.
1. Netsujo no Uragawa 2. Aoi Sakura, Hakaranda no Mai 3. Emotion, Tokimeki (shakuahchi version) 4. Humoresque 5. Asuka Densetsu 6. Aotwn no Pegasus
SUMIKO GOTO, FEATURING MARIO BRUNELLO AND OTHERS
Kazoe-Uta - Variations Works by Michio Miyagi (3)
Koto player and singer, Sumiko Goto is joined by internationally acclaimed cello player Mario Brunello, plus Keisuke Zenyoji (shakuhachi) and Misuko Takahata (koto)
1. Kazoe-Uta Henkyoku 2. Haru no Umi 3. Mizu Sandai 4. London no Yoru no Ame 5. Eihei no Koutai 6. Izumi 7. Sekirei 8. Sarahikaze Tegoto
Dual - Koto x Koto
Koto duo of Ai Kajigano and Azumi Yamano who were both students of Tadao and Kazue Sawai. Five varied compositions by contemporaries and masters.
1. Rin (Hikaru Sawai) 2. Amaneku / I am here (Hibiki Ichinose) 3. Awatekotoya no Awatetokoya - Nimen no Koto no Tameno (Kosaku Yamada) 4. Mittsu no Paraphrase (Tadao Sawai) 5. Natsuyasumi - Boken, Yuyake (Yasutaka Tato)
Ame Nimo Makezu (Not Losing To The Rain)
New album of the unit by Tomoya Nakai (25 stringed koto) and Takuya Iwata (shakuhachi) playing their original and traditional lyrical tunes.
1. Kiyotsune 2. Sumidagawa 3. Fuji Daiko 4. Oboro Zukiyo 5. Chin Chin CHidori 6. Okinawa no Uta 7. Ohkina Furudokei
Kaze Nimo Makezu (Not Losing To The Wind)
Companion album of koto and shakuachi unit Uranus playing their original and Japanese lyrical tunes.
1. Hana no Yoni 2. Sakuragawa 3. Atsumori Saigo 4. Shabon-dama 5. Yuyake Koyake
SOJU NOSAKA, TADASHI TAJIMA & EMIKO KIKUTOMO
Superb album featuring two koto players, Soju Nosaka and Emiko Kikutomo, together with shakuhachi player Tadashi Tajima. Great blend of instruments in contemporary setting, beautifully recorded. Listen samples of all tracks.
1. Sange 2. Byakudou 1 3. Byakudou II 4. Byakudou III 5. Otoshitari 6. Okunen-no-Shin 7. Ondokusan
Kokohana Ghibli Mix
Kokohana are two female 25 stringed koto players, Nanae and Migiwa. The koto is traditionally a 13 stringed instrument, and Kokohana believe the 25 strings adds extra expression and potential to play a wide range of music. On this album they perform tunes from the famous Studiio Ghibli animated films, accompanied by piano, strings, bass and a rhythm section.
1. My Neighbour Totoro (My Neighbour Totoro) 2. Kaze no Oka (Kiki's Delivery Service) 3. Princess Mononoke - Ashitaka Sekki (Princess Mononoke) 4. Kimi o Nosete (Raputa) 5. Kaze no Tohri-michi (My Neighbour Totoro) 6. Itsumo Nando demo (Spirited Away) 7. Haruka na Chi e (Nausicca) 8. Kazeno Densetsu (Nausicca) 9. Yasashisa ni Tsutsumareta nara (Kiki's Delivery Service) 10. Ano Natsu e (Spirited Away) 11. Ai wa Kimi, Kimi wa Sono Tane (Only Yesterday)
Koto ensemble formed by eleven muscians including Americans Curtis Patterson and Brett Larner, all of whom studied under the Sawai Koto School.
1. Chikashitsu no Melody (Shin Ichikawa) 2. Ichimen Moegi-iro (Hiroshi Yoshimura) 3. Esoragoto (Hikaru Sawai) 4. Koto no Tameno Ten (Tadao Sawai)
SOJU NOSAKA, MIZUYO KOMIYA
Soju Nosaka is one of the leading koto players in Japan who led the Matsunomi-kai koto school and is credited as devising the 25 stringed koto in 1991, and oversaw the development of the 20 (and 21) stringed koto, while known as Keiko Nosaka. On this album she plays the 25 stringed koto together with Mizuyo Komiya on 25 stringed bass koto. Four compositions by top composers from the Japanese contemporary music scene.
1. Tojitusho (Teizzo Matsumura) 2. Godan Genso (Kenjiro Urata) 3. Ukifune - Mizu Tagiru Uji no Kawabe ni (Ryohei Hirose) 4. Shinobigoto (Akira Nishimura)
Shinichi Yuize Plays His Concertos
Shinichi Yuize is a koto player and composer who was born in 1923, who studied at Tokyo University of Arts and Columbia University in USA. He has written 14 concertos and performs some of them here, orginally released on LP in 1986 and re-released on CD for the first time. Shinichi Yuize (koto and sangen), Hozan Yamamoto (shakuhachi), Nihon Philharmony Chamber Orchestra (conductor Michiaki Okuda) Tokyo Symphony Orchestra (conductor Kotaro Sato. Listen to all the tracks.
1. Concertante Rokudan for Koto and Orchestra. 2-4, Concerto No. 3 for Shakuhachi, Koto and Orchestra I. Allegro Ma Non Troppo II. Adagio, Alla Okinawa III. Rondo, Allegro 5-7, Concerto No. 5 for Sangen, Shakuhachi and Orchestra I. Allegro Ma Non Troppo II. Adagio Elegiaco III. Rondo, Allegro 8-10, Concerto No. 14 for Koto and Orchestra I. Allegro Moderato II. Andante III. Allegro-Adagio-Allegro 11. Capriccio for Koto, Percussion and Orchestra
The Sea in a Moonlit Night
New solo album by koto player Yoko Nishi who studied koto under Tadao Sawai. On this album, she playes koto, seventeen stringed koto and an ancient harp like instrument called a kugo that originally came from China to Japan in the Nara period (710-794). Beautifully recorded and exquisitely performed. Listen to samples of all tracks.
1. Gaku 2. Shika no Uta... 3. Midare 4. Kugo no Tameno 'Semi no Ho' 5. Southern Cross 6. Tsukiyo no Umi (The Sea in a Moonlit Night)
YUTAKA SADO + KAZUE SAWAI
Point and Surface - Ryuichi Sakamoto Presents Sonority of Japan
Concerto for koto and orchestra written by Ryuichi Sakamoto for the koto player Kazue Sawai. Track 5 is an additional track to the concerto, conducted by Yutaka Sado.
1. Still 2. Return 3. Firmament 4. Autumn 5. Gubaidulina - For Asian Koto and Orchestra
YOSHIKI NOSE, NORIHIRO ISHIKAWA
Ondulation du Vent
Joint album by koto player Norihiro Ishikawa and flute player Yoshiki Nose playing Western classical and Japanese traditional music.
1. Ave Maria 2. Air from Overture No.3 BWV.1068 3. Londo for Solo Flute 4. La Fille Aux Cheveux de Lin 5. Pavane de La Belle Au Bois Dormant 6. Laideronette, Imperatrice des Pagodes 7. Midare Rinzetsu 8. Haru no Umi 9. Hoshun 10. Fumon (Ondulation du Vent)
MINORU MURAOKA & TADAO SAWAI
Shakuhachi & Koto - Mandom
Superb bossa nova album recorded in 1971 by koto player Tadao Sawai and shakuahchi player Minoru Muraoka. They are joined by other artists such as Kayoko Iju and Union All Stars.
1. A Girl From Ipanema 2. Lovers Of The World 3. Black Olfeu 4. Do You Know The Way To San Jose 5. Rain 6. More 7. Un Homme et Une Femme 8. Mr. Mandy 9. Fool On The Hill 10. Fly Me To The Moon 11. El Condor Pasa 12. Meditation
The Sawai Kazue
New album from Kazue Sawai mainly fetaures compositions for seventeen stringed koto.These include 'Hana ni Naru' written by Tadao Sawai for Kazue and released for the first time on CD, and 'Nabari no Mittsu' recorded just after the earthquake in Tohoku. Plus there's the classic masterpiece 'Junana-gen, Rokudan' and 'Unebiyama' played on a five stringed koto, similar to an ancient Chinese instrument.
1. Hana ni Naru, Junana-gen Dokuso no Tameni 2. Megurikuru 3. Nabari no Mittsu, Junana-gen Dokuso no Tameno 4. Unebiyama, Gogen-kin to Noroi no Tameni 5.? 6. Junana-gen, Rokudan
Flora - Koto Music Collections by K. Yoshizaki
New album by Katsuhiko Yoshizaki (koto, 17 stringed koto, vocals), seven songs from solo koto solo to quartet. All written by Yoshizaki except track seven. Joining Yoshizaki are Junko Tomishima (koto, three stringed koto), Atsuko Kida (17 stringed koto) and Teruhisa Fukuda (shakuhachi).
1. Urushiguroi Tori (koto solo) 2. Flora - Hanagami (koto, 17 stringed koto, shakuhachi) 3. Hiwa (koto x 2, 17 stringed koto) 4. Zero (koto x 2, 17 stringed koto, shakuhachi) 5. Kamome (koto x 2) 6. Shibuki (17 stringed koto, shakuhachi) 7. Tetsuwa
Collection of Toshihiko Mizuno Compositions - New Music for Koto, Shakuhachi, 17 Gen, Sangen
Eighth album from composer / koto player Toshihiko Mizuno. Includes some of his earlier tunes, five composed for quartet and one for trio of shakuhachi players. Minimialist and rather beautiful. Mizuno has teamed up with a superb cast of musicians; Rinko Nomura (seventeen stringed koto), Atsuko Kida (koto, three stringed koto), Miki Maruta, Masako Watanabe (koto), Shozan Tanabe, Ryozan Sakata and Dozan Fujiwara (shakuhachi).
1. Kitaguni Zessho 2. Kodama no Shi 3. Kaze no Majutsushi 4. Star's Guift 5. Tomoe 6. Hito-Tose, Shunka Shuto
TADAO SAWAI, KAZUE SAWAI, HOZAN YAMAMOTO
Koto. Sebastian Bach Collection
Three greats of the Japanese traditional music world, Tadao Sawai (koto), Kazue Sawai (koto) and Hozan Yamamoto (shakuhachi) play the music of Bach, accompanied by jazzy drums, bass and guitar. Brilliant album, originally released in 1971, 23 tracks.
MICHIYO YAGI & ELLIOTT SHARP
Wonderful collaboration album, recorded in 2005 finally gets a release. Yagi is one of the Koto world's most fearless collaborators and innovators and on this album plays 21 string and 17 string bass koto, sometimes using a bass bow or drumsticks to add to the sonic possibilities. Sharp,meanwhile, is well known in the New York experimental music scene, a multi-instrumentalist, mainly a guitar player and pioneer of lap top computers as part of the performance. Sharp plays an eight string guitar bass with a laptop interface, and the two improvise to create a variety of moods, from intense pieces to deeply meditative moments, many with a Japanese traditional edge.
1. Darkly Dreaming 2. Tempest 3. Refractions 4. The Candy Factory 5. Journey 6. Shortwave 7. Folklore 8. The Jumblies 9. Dreaming Darkly
Tatsuo Minagawa, Kana Houjou, Toyoaki Tanaka, Green Wood Harmony, Yumi Iizuka, Masakazu Takahashi and Others
Sokyoku 'Rokudan' to Gregorian chant 'Credo' - Japanese Traditional Music and Christian Music
Sokyoku (koto music) 'Rokudan' meets the Gregorian chant 'Credo' on a fascinating collaboration.
Three Dances is a piece written by John Cage, originally for two prepared pianos, but arranged by Kazue Sawai for four bass kotos'. Originally released in 1992, this is a remastered version with an unreleased track 'Sanka [Song of Praise]' written by Tadao Sawai. Includes English liner notes.
1. Three Dances 1 2.Three Dances 2 3. Three Dances 3 4. Malvina For Koto (13 Stringed) 5. Concerto For Koto And Orchestra 6. Sanka [Song of Praise]
Japanese Contemporary Music for 17-stringed koto - Gendai Hougaku no Sekai
This was the brilliant, influential koto player Kazue Sawai's first solo album. The material on this album won an award as the best concert of 1979 and then was recorded in a studio in 1980. First ever CD reissue comes with two extra tracks; Toward The Sea For Alto Flute And 17-stringed Koto by Toru Takemitsu and Nocturne For 17-stringed Koto by Toshio Hosokawa.
1. Drifting Island For Koto (17-stringed) And Percussion Op.38 2. Two Fantasies For 20-stringed Koto & 17-stringed Koto 1. 3. Two Fantasies For 20-stringed Koto & 17-stringed Koto 2. 4. Isurugi For Solo 17-stringed Koto 5. Homura For Solo 17-stringed Koto And Koto Ensemble 6. Nocturne For 17-stringed Koto 7. Toward The Sea For Alto Flute And 17-stringed Koto 1.the Night 8. Toward The Sea For Alto Flute And 17-stringed Koto 2.moby Dick 9. Toward The Sea For Alto Flute And 17-stringed Koto 3.Cape Cod
Me to Me
Reissue of an album thought by some to be a bit of a masterpiece from 1987. The experimental koto player was joined by Peter Hamill, the British prog rocker of Van Der Graaf Generator, Japanese singer Hiromi Ota and was produced by Eastern stringed insstrument specialist, and a bit of prog rocker himself, Ayuo Takahashi.
1. Eno Naka no Sugata Yattsu no Koro ni 2. Eno Naka no Sugata Kekkon no Yoru ni 3. Eno Naka no Sugata Yonju no Toki ni 4. Futari wa Takeno Isu ni Suwari Sora no Tsuki to Sono Mizuumi no Hansha o Nagameta 5. Chiriyuku Hana no Uta 6. A Letter from Strangers Childhood 7. Midare 8. Me to Me 9. Hashi o Watatte
PETER BROTZMANN, MICHIYO YAGI, PAAL NILDDEN-LOVE
55 minute performance recorded in Norway in 2008 of Michiyo Yagi (koto), Peter Brotzmann (alto, tenor saxophones,tarogato) and Paal Nilssen-Love (drums). Improvised with moods ranging from plaintive to wild.
Solo album from one of the most successful koto players in the current scene. Atsuko Kida plays with Bamboo Orchestra, has played with Koto-za and on this album plays modern masterpieces on koto, seventeen stringed koto and sangen (shamisen)
1. Koto Shiju-so-kyoku 2. Ochiba no Oodori 3. Genso Gokei 4. Seoto 5. Koto no tameno Kumi-kyoku
New album by popular koto player / composer. Plays own songs and songs written by his uncle in duo, trio, quartet and quintet, a list of which reads like a who's who of the Japanese contemporary traditional music scene. These musicians are Tomoko Nomura, Miki Maruta, Azumi Yamano, Tamafune Tanii, Yoko Nishi (koto) Kuniko Obina (koto, sangen) Asaka Ikegami, Etsuko Takezawa (17 stringed koto) Yuko Hirano (shamisen) Shozan Tanabe, Ikuya Iwata, Akihisa Kominato, Ryozan Sakata (shakuhachi).
1. Yuki Shimaki 2. Narayama Skelzzo 3. Tsukishirube II 4. Souju 5. Plaiades 6. Sou 7. Niju-sou Shigure no Yoru
Neo Tokyo Lounge
Kan are Koto player Shin Ichikawa and shakuhachi player and vocalist Akihisa Kominato. Both come from families steeped in traditional and folk music, yet together these young musicians have tried to create something quite new. Jazzy club style music, championed by Mondo Grosso and Jazztronik among others, this mini-album contains a version of Stevie Wonder's Superstition.
1. Eternal Flow 2. Come in...Planet Earth 3. Interlude / Neo Tokyo Lounge 4. Superstition 5. Wideopen / Tang Trip feat. Twigy 6. Eastern Wind
Keiko Mutsumori is a koto player from Kurashiki, Okayama prefecture. She started to learn from the age of six, and modern koto styles from Tadao and Kazue Sawai. She started playing professionally as a solo artist in 1986, released her first album in 2001 and has performed in the USA, France and China as well as many recitals in Japan. This is an album aimed at the new age as well as the traditional market, with improvisational passages and well known Japanese and Western tunes.
1. Yurukaze 2. Bara no Waltz 3. Love One 4. Crystal Blue 5. Anata no Tameni 6. Para! Pa! Para! Pa! 7. Baby Pink no Uta 8. Spring 9. Kagayaki 10. Haru no Kaori 11. Mata Ashita 12. Ave Maria
Soka, Shosou, Goku
Nanae Yoshimura is a specialist on the twenty stringed koto. She has performed around the world including London, Paris, Vienna and New York and played with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. On this album she is accompanied by flute, cello and Japanese flutes.
Katari Uta Koto
TsuguKaji-Koto are Ai Kajigano (17 stringed koto and vocals) and Tsugumi Yamamoto (17 and 25 stringed koto/vocals). It's unusual for koto players to sing, but they seem to pull it off quite well.
1. Pattern 2. Yukionna 3. Ehon no Naka kara 4.Istumo Mieru Kawa 5. Hoshi ni natta Otoko 6. Mudai - Istuki no Komoriuta
Beauty of Japanese Nature
Tonfu is young koto player Rin Nakashima. This is her first album, on which her koto and bass 17 stringed koto is combined with the shakuhachi of Hideki Ishigaki, percussion plus guitar and keyboards on a couple of tracks. Nakashima writes all her own material and shows considerable talent with innovative compositions and arrangements. Both relaxing and gentle tunes and more upbeat experimental ones.
1. Cherry Blossom Rendezvous 2. Living Life 3. Wind Flow 4. Rain Splash 5. Walking 6. Moon Shadow 7. Healing Tree
Koto Nagashi Uta
Nagashi uta performed on the koto with orchestral accompaniment. 2 CDs, 30 tracks. Artists include Kimiko Yamauchi & Seiryu-kai, Saburo Maki & Koto Emsenble and Columbia Orchestra.
Kokohana are Nanae and Migiwa who both play 25 stringed koto. The duo are aimed more at the new age market than anything else. They performed in France in 2008 and have been gaining a following outside Japan. This album includes a collaboration with Okinawan and ex-Nenes singer Misako Koja. 13 tracks. Click here to email for availability
Spell of Spring - Selected Works of Tadao Sawai Vol. 1
Duo En are Americans Elizabeth (koto) and John (shakuhachi) Falconer. On this wonderful album, the duo, together with some collaborators, play the compositions of Tadao Sawai (1937-1997), probably the greatest composer of contemporary koto music and a fine koto player himself. Elizabeth studied under Tadao Sawai and his wife Kazue, in Japan for many years. The clear passion and love she has for the music shines through in these wonderful versions of some of Sawai's most famous compositions. These include a quite magical performance of Tori no Yo-Ni (Like a Bird) performed solo by Elizabeth, while John plays shakuhachi on two tracks and the experimental vision of Sawai is acknowledged with a koto and violin duo on Naki Suna Yo. One thing is for sure, Tadao Sawai would be proud of his former student. 1. Kaze no Uta (Song of the Wind) 2. Tori no Yo-ni (Like a Bird) 3. Naki Suna Yo (Singing Sand) 4. Haru no Gotoku (Spell of Spring) 5. Hotaru (Fireflies).
Stirring Autumn - Selected Works of Tadao Sawai Volume 2
On the second volume, collaborators of Elizabeth Falconer (koto) and John Falconer (shakuhachi) include Jessika Kenney (vocals) Marcia Takamaru (shamisen) and Brian Falconer (koto). These two volumes of the works of Tadao Sawai followed a year long series of concerts of Sawai's music in Seattle performed by Duo-En. 1. Yurero Aki (Stirring Autumn) 2. Sanka (Song of Praise) 3. Ginga (Milky Way) 4. Manjushaka (Equinox Flowers) 5. Hana (Flourish)
Dragonfly are Aiko Shimada (vocals and guitar) Elizabeth Falconer (koto) and Mako (sanshin, vocals and ukulele). On this album they play Okinawa, Japanese and Hawaiian traditional tunes. Interesting mix of instruments beautifully performed and superbly sung by Aiko and Mako. 13 tracks. Tinsagu nu Hana (Balsam Flowers), Pupu Hinuhinu (Shiny Shell Lullaby), Mahalo, Warabi Gami (Blessings from Heaven), Tsukinu Kaisha (Ocean Moon), Tanabata no Uta (Song of the Star Festival), Ku'u Pua I Paoakalani (My Flowers at Paoakalani), Migumi (One), When Pueo Flies, Akata Sundunchi (My Heart, My Home), Kojo no Tsuki (Moonlit Castle Reflections), Hatachi Miyarabi (Youthful Beauty), Dreaming-Yume.
If anyone was destined to become a koto player, that person has to be Hikaru Sawai. The son of the late Tadao Sawai and the world renowned koto player Kazue Sawai, he learnt from a young age, studied at all the right places (Toho Academy of Fine Arts for Children) but then decided he wanted to be a rock guitarist. However it wasn't long before he was lured back into the koto world, performing with his father, and eventually becoming head of the Sawai Koto Institute upon his father's death in 1997. Like his father, he is becoming known as a composer as well as a performer, and on his second album he showcases six compositions including Rock Garden Prologue, Illusion, Aka no Irodori and Rock Garden Epilogue. Sawai plays the 17 stringed koto and standard koto and sangen (shamisen).
Hikaru Sawai is the present head of the Sawai koto institute and the son of Tadao and Kazue Sawai. Hikaru is one of the leading composers of modern koto. He grew up listening as much to rock music as koto, which gives his compositions a contemporary feel, and has been playing in rock bands for several years. Hikaru plays a 13 stringed and 17 stringed koto, plus sangen (3 stringed instrument) and performs with various other musicians including fellow koto player Chieko Fukunaga, a shakuhachi player and the Tadao Sawai ensemble.
Michiyo Yagi is one of Japan's most innovative koto players. Her koto style is influenced by American composers she met while living there such as John Cage and John Zorn. She was a member of the pioneering Koto Vortex, Paulownia Crush and Kokoo. This is a solo album played on the seventeen stringed koto. Eight excellent tracks.
MICHIYO YAGI, INGEBRIGT HAKER FLATEN, PAAL NILSSEN-LOVE
Live! at Super Deluxe
Recorded live in Tokyo in 2004. Avant-garde koto player Michiyo Yagi with Norwagian musicians, Ingebrigt Haker Flaten (contrabass) and Paal Nilssen-Love (drums). These three met for the first time on the day of the concert. They simply had a sound check and then performed together. As such it's very improvised and has a tension that sparks some magical moments.
MICHIYO YAGI & PAULOWNIA CRUSH
One of Japan's most brilliant koto players Michiyo Yagi (she also plays with Koto Vortex), was a student of Tadao Sawai, is influenced by John Cage and has worked with John Zorn. On this album she is joined by six of her own students, called Paulownia Crush. The group is renowned for playing in non-Japanese scales, defying musical boundaries, and pushing the borders of koto. Comes with English liner notes.
Latest album by Koto (harp) quartet, playing progressive new compositions.
Like A Bird
Miki Maruta is one quarter of the superb koto quartet, Koto Vortex, and a brilliant koto player in her own right. In similar vain to Koto Vortex, includes version of her late teacher and master, Tadao Sawaii's 'Like A Bird', other Sawaii and contemporary compositions. Exquistely played, with just the right dose of daring and inventiveness. Includes shakuhachi (bamboo flute) on one track by Dozan Fujiwara and one track with Miki singing in the traditional style.
Just sixteen years old, Morikawa is a koto prodigy. The big hope for being able to do for the koto, what the Yoshida Brothers did for the shamisen; that is turn an ancient forgotten instrument into something cool and new for the young. Compositions are by deceased contemporary koto master Tadao Sawaii, and his son, Hikaru. Certainly Morikawa is talented, combining finesse and delicacy with speed and power. The only quibble is she starts each tune with a short pretentious poetry reading, which becomes increasingly annoying. Other than this, a remarkably confident first album.
There seems to be a surfeit of young traditional musicians at the moment in Japan. Playing Japanese music is trendy again, after years of being way behind western music in the cool stakes. Somewhat unusually Hideaki Matsumoto is a male koto player in what is mostly a female dominated instrument. He grew up playing piano, not turning to koto until he was at university and on this album Matsumoto plays his own original compositions with a piano accompaniment. He also does a solo rendition of the famous tune 'Kojo No Tsuki'. Eight tracks that do more or less what it says on the tin. Dramatic but with lighter moments.
Two young female koto players perform various tunes under the guise of healing music. They play 25 stringed koto on nine tracks, mostly original tunes with titles such as 'gentle rain'.
Mostly minamilist and contemporary pieces played on solo koto, but includes version of the well known 'Sakura' and new compositions together with a chorus group. An intense and rewarding listen.
Contemporary Koto player, playing kind of minimalist music, together with occasional shakuhachi and keyboards. Rather interesting.
Healing Koto - 100 Japanese Songs on Koto Vol. 1. (A - I)
Famous Japanese songs played healing new age style by the group Collage featuring koto player Mie Kato and producer Hiroshi Igarashi, on synthesizer, programming, guitar and other instruments. Tracks include Aoge ba Toutoshi, Akai Kutsu, Aka-tombo, Amefuri, Amefuri Otsuki san, Amefuri Kumano ko.
Healing Koto - 100 Japanese Songs on Koto Vol. 2. (I - O)
Koto plus synthesizer and other western instruments on versions of famous Japanese tunes including Inu no Omawari san, Ue o Muite Arukou, Umi, Ureshii Hinamatsuri, Edo Komoriuta, Ookina Kuri no Ki no Shitade, Oshogatsu.
Healing Koto - 100 Japanese Songs on Koto Vol. 3. (O - Ka)
Pleasant enough new age healing versions of Japanese songs on koto and luscious keyboard arrangements. Tracks include Ohanashi Yubi san, Oborozukiyo, Omocha no Cha Cha Cha, Kahsan no Uta, Kata, Tataki, Kamome no Suihei san, Karatachi no Hana.
Healing Koto - 100 Japanese Songs on Koto Vol. 4. (Ki - Ko)
Koto plays Japanese well known songs with western accompaniment: Kisha Poppo, Kyo no Hi wa Saoyounara, Koinobori, Kojo no Tsuki, Kono Michi, Konnichiwa Aka chan
Healing Koto - 100 Japanese Songs on Koto Vol. 5. (Sa - Su)
The famous tracks on this one include Sakura Sakura, Sacchan, Shiawase nara Te o Tatakou, Shiki no Uta, Jidai, Shabom-dama, Zui Zui Zukkorobashi.
Healing Koto - 100 Japanese Songs on Koto Vol. 6. (Se - Tsu)
Sei-kurabe, Zosan, Takibi, Chiisai Aki Mitsuketa, Tulip, Tsuki no Sabaku, Tsubas o Kudasai and other tunes played on koto and western instrumentation by the group Collage.
Healing Koto - 100 Japanese Songs on Koto Vol. 7. (Te - Na)
Collage play Te ho Hira o Taiyo ni, Tohryan se, Doremi no Uta, Donguri Koro Koro, Tombo no Megane, Nada Sou Sou, Natsuno Omoide and other well known Japanese tunes.
Healing Koto - 100 Japanese Songs on Koto Vol. 8. (Na - Fu)
Tracks include Nanatsu no Ko, Hana, Hanyu no Yado, Hamachidori, Hamabe no Uta, Haru ga Kita, Haru no Ogawa
Healing Koto - 100 Japanese Songs on Koto Vol. 9. (Fu - Mu)
This selection of tracks includes Fuyugeshiki, Fuyu no Seiza, Furusato, Hotoru no Hikari, Miagete goran Yoru no Hoshi o, Mikan no saku Oka, Musunde Hiraite
Healing Koto - 100 Japanese Songs on Koto Vol. 10. (Me - Wa)
Tracks on the final volume of Japanese songs played on koto with new age style accompaniment include Medaka no Gakko, Momiji, Yashi no Mi, Yuhi, Yuyake Koyake, Yuki, Ryoshu, Ringo no Uta