One of the best of the current Tsugaru shamisen players, blind musician Shotaro Yo (born in 1977) learned Tsugaru shamisen from the age of six and was a 'champion' at the Tsugaru Shamisen Championship of 2008 held in Aomori. On this new album he plays four Tsugaru minyo folk songs and three original tunes.
1. Tsugaru Jonkara Bushi Shin Bushi 2. Tsugaru Owara Bushi 3. Ajigasawa no Kaze 4. Tsugaru no Shiki 5.Kibo 6. Tsugaru San Sagari 7. Tsugaru Yosare Bushi
Tsugaru Godai Minyo (Tsugaru Five Grand Songs)
Blind Tsugaru Shamisen player, born in 1977 who has won a few Tsugaru Shamisen championships and has been playing for 25 years. Long awaited new album. This is an album of the five 'grand songs' of Tsugaru minyo plus one extra track.
1. Tsugaru Jonkara Bushi 2. Tsugaru Yosare Bushi 3. Tsugaru Aiya Bushi 4. Tsugaru Ohaara Bushi 5. Tsugaru Sansagari 6. Kyokubiki Kakeai
Katsusuke Nakajima Collection 3 - Sho Chiku Bai - Pine, Bamboo, Plum
One of the pioneers of Nagauta Shamisen who died in 2009, recorded in the 1960s and 1970s. Sho Chiku Bai (= Matsu, Take, Ume) pine, bamboo and plum all play significant roles in Japanese culture, particularly for happy and festive occations.
1. Matsu, Take, Ume 2. Mizu No En 3. Mukashi Koroku Bushi 4. Karakasa Niwaka
Classic and Modern Masterpieces for Koto and Sangen
Classic and modern tunes for koto and shamisen (sangen) played by master musician Yasuko Nakashima and musicians from Seiha Hougakukai, an organisation of Ikuta school Koto artists.
1. Yatsuhashi 2. Sangen Dokusou Ni Yoru Meisa 3. Chou On 4. Koujou No Tsuki Hensoukyoku 5. Hana No Tsuyukusa 6. Sou Shun 7. Shijyuuka Ichiban 8. Koto To Jyuushichigen Ni Yoru Subarusanshou 1su 9. Koto To Jyuushichigen Ni Yoru Subarusanshou 2 Bai 10. Koto To Jyuushichigen Ni Yoru Subarusanshou 3ru
ENSHO SANYUTEI 6TH, TOYOTSUMA KASUGA
Ensho and Kouta - An Invitation to World of Kouta from Edo
Kouta '(short song' sometimes played by geisha) album by Toyotsuma Kasuga (vocals, shamisen) and Toyogoyuki Kasuga (shamisen) collaborationg with Rakugo artist Ensho Sanyutei 6th.
1-18. Kouta Kumikyoku - Kawa 19. Kadomatsu 20. Ume Ichirin 21. Harukaze ga Soyo Soyo to 22. Douzo Kanaete 23. Ohiso no Konami 24. Yudachi no Kazarizuyosa 25. Hashimoto e 26. Mushi no Neo 27. Gakuya o Nukete (Taki no Shiraito) 28. Chiru wa Uki 29. Wakemo Naikoto 30. Hatsuyuki ni Furikome rarete 31. Yuki no Ashita no Itsuzuke 32. Kokoro shite (Tsurujiro)
The Best Selection of Sangen
Six classic and modern sangen (shamisen) tunes played by Akiko Nishigata, a Yamada school koto/sangen player together with shakuhachi maestro Reibo Aoki and koto player Kono Kameyama. Includes English liner notes.
1. Kyorai 2. Banshocho 3. Meikyo 4. Honshu 5. Toki no Mitsu 6. Shinzarashi
SACHIKO YAMABIKO, CHIKAKO YAMABIKO, SENKO YAMABIKO, RYOHA YAMABIKO, NOBORU YAMABIKO, SHIBUN UJI AND OTHERS
Kokyoku no Ima, Volume 2 - Katobushi, Icchubushi, Miyazonobushi, Ogiebushi (10 CDs)
Live performances of Japanese classical shamisen music called Kokyoku- old pieces- an older style of Edo period music. Originally they were performed as part of Kabuki, although these days they are peformed as concert pieces. There are four different types of Kokyoku; Kato Bushi, Icchu Bushi, Miyazono Bushi and Ogie Bushi all performed by National Treasures and the best musicians between 2006 and 2009. 10 CDs, 37 songs, box set with detailed liner notes (in Japanese).
Disc 1-3. Kato Bushi Disc 4-5. Icchu Bushi Disc 6-8. Miyazono Bushi Disc 9-10. Ogie Bushi
Tamashii no Hibiki (2CDs)
2 CD set commemorating 100 years since the birth of Chikuzan Takahashi (1910-1998). CD 1 is a live album that at the time celebrated his 50th year as a performing musician, recorded in his native Aomori in September 1974. Chikuzan plays Tsugaru shamisen, fue and shakuhachi. CD 2 also features his teacher Unchiku Narita and other musicians playing tunes as accompaniment to minyo songs, including some rare performances.
1. Hiranai Matsuri Bayashi 2. Shamisen Jongara Bushi 3. Tsugaru Mikudari 4. Tsugaru Yamauta 5. Nanbu Ushioi Uta 6. Tsugaru Ondo 7. Tsugaru Yosare Bushi, Tsugaru Aiya Bushi 8. Jonkara Kudoki 9. Yasaburo Bushi
1. Tsugaru Jonkara Bushi (Kyu, Chu, Shin) 2. Tsugaru Yosare Bushi 3. Tsugaru Ondo 4. Tsugaru Aiya Bushi 5. Kyu Obara Bushi 6. Ajigasawa Jinku 7. Ringo Bushi 8. Jusan no Sunayama 9. Tsugaru Jonkara Bushi 10. Ajigasawa Jinku 11. Waiha Bushi 12. Jusan no Sunayama 13. Hohai Bushi
ONO GAGAKUKAI, TATEYAMA KOUGO
Nihon Biwagaku Taikei (5 CDs)
5 CD box set, a comprehensive introduction to Japanese Biwa music, originally released as seven LPs in 1963. Comes with original liner notes in both Japanese and English with newly added notes. Ten different schools/types of biwa ; Gaku Biwa, Moso Biwa, Heike Biwa, Satsuma Biwa Seiha, Satsuma Biwa Kinshin-ryu, Chikuzen Biwa, Nishiki Biwa, Higo Biwa, Kokkei Biwa and Gendai Biwa.
Biwa Junko Handa no Sekai
Biwa player who has a wide repertoire from classical to modern, and performs her own tunes as well. Junko Handa has performed around the world in more than 30 countries, and has been based in Tokyo since the 1980s.
1. Gion Shoja 2. Giou 3. Atsumori no Saigo 4. Yottsu no Koiuta
Seikin Tomiyama World of Jiuta
New album from Seikin Tomiyama who studied jiuta from his father Seio Tomiyama who was also a master of Jiuta. Seikin became a national treasure in 2009.
Seiji Tsurusawa is considered to be one of the greatest joruri bunraku shamisen players of his time. Elegant but also sharp and passionate performance.
1. Sanbasou 2. Tempest Arashi nochi Hare 3. Akoya Kotozeme 4. Orochi Taiji 5. Okuri 6. Sakaro 7. Sanju 8. Kitsunebi 9. Michiyuki 10. Cho no Meriyasu 11. Yanagi 12. Okkake 13. Kinobori 14. Numazu 15. Chasenzake 16. Kanjincho 17. Gaku 18. Shidouji 19. Yuki 20. Futozao no tameno Composition 21. Sarumawashi 22. Nozakimura
Living National Treasure Series Vol. 21 - Konoshita Kagehazama Gassen - Takenaka Toride no Dan
Recorded in 2005, the great narrator and Living National Treasure Tsunadayu Takemoto performs one of the greatest piece of joruri- narrative storytelling accompanied by shamisen- written in 1789. The accompanist is the shamisen player and Takemoto's son, Seijiro Tsurusawa.
1-8. Konoshita Kagehazana Gassen - Takenaka Toride no Dan
Kaze no Kotozute
Fumiyoshi Kobayashi is a Tsugaru shamisen player who learned from the late, great Chikuzan Takahashi. On this album he is joined by minyo singer Unei Sudo and Chikuei Takahashi who is a direct apprentice of Chikuzan Takahashi who plays Tsugaru shamisen and taiko.
1. Kocho Aiya Bushi 2. Kocho Yosare Bushi 3. Kuroishi Kamigawara Bushi 4. Waiya Bushi 5. Tsugaru Obara Bushi 6. Tsugaru Mikudari 7. Tsugaru Ondo 8. Sokkyo-kyoku 9. Oyako Nijuso 10. Kaze no Kotozute
Anmitsu are the Tsugaru shamisen duo of Yuka Annaka and Kumi Kindaichi. They've been at it quite a few years now, and can't be accused of jumping on any bandwagons. They both started learning when Tsugaru shamisen was decidely unfashionable, and have become skilled at the traditional repertoire, and pioneering innovators. This is their third album, playing Japanse minyo songs, not usually associated with Tsugaru shamisen, performed on shamisen with vocals, hayashi and narimono percussion.
1. Konpira Fune Fune 2. Haru no Yoni, Umi no Yoni 3. Dedereko Den 4. Ska Moga 5. Aomori Rokku Shitei 6. Otemoyan 7. Tsuki nu Kaisha 8. Rajap Rajap 9. Anjon 7 10. Tokyo Ondo
Imayou Joruri - Yashahime (SHM-CD)
Harue Momoyama is a great innovator of Japanese shamisen playing. She studied under the Living National Treasure Senju Miyazono IV, formed the Momoyama school of shamisen and has reseached and played ancient Japanese folk songs and other Asian traditional music. Joruri is narrative storytelling accompanied by shamisen.
1. (Tomonaga) Joruri 2. Enju Dokuhaku 3. (Yoritomo) Joruri 4. Enju Dokuhaku 5. (Yasha Jusui) Joruri 6. Shuka
Toyoeishiba Kasuga is the top kouta singer of one of two largest schools. Kouta, meaning 'short song' developed at the end of the Edo period, and are usually short and witty. This is her latest album.
1. Naniwaya Okita 2. Nanno Hechima 3. Sakuraame 4. Yume no Yoshiwara 5. Uwaki Doushi 6. Sunete 7. Hotarujaya 8. Ahoudori 9. Kigoya 10. Yagurashita 11. Ago de Shirasete 12. Asu wa Ukina 13. Nakazu no Omoide 14. Asu wa Otachika, Touge 15. Meguruhi no 16. Haru Tatsuya 17. Shigurejaya 18. Washi ga Omoi 19. Cha no Toga ka 20. Asagizome 21. Machiwabite 22. Koumori 23. Mukoujima Nadokoro
Yukino is a highly rated shamisen player and composer. On this album she plays her shamisen accompanied by other traditional instruments including fue (flute), shakuhachi, koto, 17 stringed koto, hayashi and percussion. These six original tracks have an intensity and dynamism, cleverly constructed and beautifully performed.
Iwaki are a group of six tsugaru shamisen players, two singers, and one shakuhachi, fue and taiko player. All are highly skilled musicians, blending traditional and modern influences.
1. Tsugaru Jonkara Bushi Rokudan 2. Tsugaru Obara Bushi 3. Tsugaru Aiya Bushi 4. The Tsugaru 5. Tsugaru Mikudari 6. Tsugaru Yosare Bushi 7. Komachi no Shirabe 8. Tsugaru no Hibiki
Second album from the tsugaru shamsien big band.
1. Shin Tanto Bushi 2. Tsugaru Aiya Bushi 3. Kitaguni no Senritsu 4. Nikata Bushi, Honjo Oiwake Kumikyoku 5. Mikudari Medley 6. Tsugaru Jonkara Bushi - Kyusetsu, Chusetsu 7. Tsugaru Obara Bushi 8. Tsugaru Yosare Bushi 9. Juraku 10. Gensou Tsugaru
KIYOMOTO ENJUDAIYU GODAI
Kiyomoto Enjudayu Godai- Meien-Shu (6 CDs)
The Kiyomoto school of shamisen was founded by Kiyomoto Enjudayu in 1814 as a breakaway group from the Tomimoto school. Kiyomoto pieces are mostly short, created during the age of transformation dances of kabuki and incorporate other styles of music including folk and popular hauta songs, and chobokure, fast rhythmical singing or chanting. This fascinating box set features the great master Kiyomoto Enjudayu Godai (V) born in 1862. All the recordings survive from the time of the first world war and have been remastered. Other artists are Kiyomoto Eijudayu IV, Kiyomoto Shizudayu, Kiyomoto Sumidayu, Kiyomoto Eijiro, Kiyomoto Kikusuke, Kiyomoto Shojiro. Disc 1: 1. Hokushu, Seigaiha Disc 2: 1. Sumidagawa 3. Bunya Disc 3: 1. Akegarasu 2. Michitose Disc 4: 1. Gonjo 2. Yamauba Disc 5: 1. Kanda Matsuri 2. Yasuna Disc 6: 1. Osome 2. Sanja Matsuri
Tsugaru no Shirabe
In these days of young tsugaru shamisen axe wielding punks it's nice to see a relative newcomer doing the traditional stuff well and pushing the tradition forward in the time-honoured way. Yu Takahashi is from the Takahashi school, playing a mixture of traditional favourites and his own tunes. 7 tracks. 1. Ryomei (with shakuhachi) 2. Tsugaru Kairou 3. Tsugaru Jonkara Bushi 4. Tsugaru Aiya Bushi 5.Tsugaru Yosare Bushi 6. Tsugaru Jonkara Nakabushi 7. Jusan no Sunayama (with shakuhachi)
SEIKIN TOYAMA I
Omoshiro Nippon 2 - Jiuta
Jiuta can be described as 'songs of the country' and were traditionally performed on shamisen in the pleasure quarters of Kyoto and Osaka largely by Geishas. Many of the early players were blind, and over the years the shamisen players played together with koto musicians. Seikin Toyama I is one of the great jiuta shamisen players and here performs five funny and playful tunes. 1. Tanishi 2. Kawazu 3. Konkyoji 4. Magari-nezumi 5. Tanuki
IJURO YOSHIMURA VII, KIYOMOTO TOSHIZU DAYU
Omoshiro Nippon 3 - Nagauta, Kiyomoto, Tokiwazu
Another superb CD featuring three witty songs from three genres, performed by three masters of their art. Nagauta (long song) developed alongside kabuki theatre and most of the most popular pieces are used in kabuki dances. Kiyomoto is a narrative singing style founded by Kiyomoto Enjudayu I (1777-1825). Kiyomoto encompasses other styles and street songs and is an interesting mix of witty banter with a zen-like buddhist serenity. Tokiwazu is a style of joruri narrative music used in kabuki, similar to Kiyomoto but with a different atmosphere, and a lighter singing style. 1. Makasho (Nagauta) - Ijuro Yoshimura VII 2. Kisen (Kiyomoto) - Toshizu Dayu Kiyomoto 3. Tsurionna (Tokiwazu) - Kikuji Dayu Tokiwazu.
FUMIYA OKAMOTO, ASADAYU TSURUGA, YOSHIYUKI YAMAGA, KATSUJO MORITA
Omoshiro Nippon 4 - Shinuchi, Biwa
Fine CD featuring shinuchi and various biwa styles. Biwa is a lute like instrument that originated in China, is used in gagaku and as a solo instrument played by blind priests telling stories from the Tales of the Heike. Modern biwa mostly comes from southern Japan, such as Chikuzen, Satsuma and Higo biwa. This CD has four funny stories. 1. Dochu Hizakurige - Akasara Namiki no Dan (Shinuchi) - Fumiya Okamato. 2. Dochu Hizakurige - Ichiko Kuchiyose no Dan (Shinuchi) - Asadayu Tsurgu 3. Kuzure Biwa - Tai no Mukoiri (Biwa) - Higo biwa, Yoshiyuki Yamaga. 4. Kazure Biwa - Sakemochi Gassen (Biwa) - Chikuzen biwa, Katsujo Morita.
Another artist who passed the 2007 Japan Traditional Cultures Foundation audition. Kouta (short songs) of shamisen plus uta (vocals).
Jiuta Sokyoku no Sekai (5 CDs)
5 CD box set of one of Japan's leading shamisen players and singers. He performs genres such as kuomiuta (shamisen suites) hauta (short shamisen songs) on songs originallty composed for both koto and for shamisen (jiuta sokyoku). What sets Kikihara apart though is his Osaka dialect (although he was not born in Osaka himself). He is known particularly in Kansai for keeping this unuique style alive, which learnt from the Living National Treasure Hatsuko Kikuhara. 28 tracks.
Koto and Sangen, Classic and Modern Masterpiece Collection.
2 CD collection, 10 tracks from members of the Japanese Musical Association, Seiha Hogaku Kai, which include Hozan Yamamoto and Yasuko Nakajima.
Many of the great players of Tsugaru shamisen, the fast plucking style from northern Japan, performing the most famous pieces. Artists include Chikuzan Takahashi, Katsuaki Sawada, Gunhachiro Shirakawa, Yujiro Takahashi and Michiya Mihashi, while the pieces include Tsugaru Jonkara Bushi, Tsugaru Yosare Bushi, Tsugaru Ondo, Jusan no Sunayama, Tsugaru Mikudari and Tsugaru Aya Bushi. 22 tracks.
Rites and Tales with Biwa. Yamashika Yoshiyuki, Blind Musician of Kyushu (3 CDs)
Yoshiyuki Yamashika (1901-96) was the greatest exponent of Higo biwa, from Kumamoto, Kyushu, southern Japan. This is a 3 CD set of archive recordings by this blind singer and biwa player of various narratives. Comes with English liner notes by Hugh de Ferranti. CD1. 1. Watamashi (1963) 2. Dojoji (1989) CD2. 1. Kikuzhi Kuzure (1974) CD3. 1. Azekakehime (1970) 2. Instumental Excerpt (1974)
Shijo no Hashi Kara- Miyako Asobiuta
Mika Shigemori is from Kyoto and is one of the best of the young generation of shamisen players, kouta (singers) and dancers. She has been much in demand for working on TV, and various collaborations with choreographers, flower arrangers and others. This is her first album on which she plays shamisen and is accompanied by two musicians on fue (flute) and hayashi (backing vocals). These 19 tracks are known as asobiuta, and are traditionally sung by Geisha. Simple, exquisite and beautifully played. Titles include Ageshio, Dangoe, Machiwabite, Aoyagi, Yarisabi, Sanosa and Shijo no Hashi Kara.
Tsugaru Shamisen (2 CDs)
Fantastic 2 CD set of Tsugaru shamisen, the fast plucking folk style from northern Japan. The greatest players from the past to the present including Chikuzan Takahashi, Yujiro Takahashi, Mitsugu Koyama and Shinichi Kinoshita. 20 tracks.
Chikuzan was the master of the exciting tsugaru shamisen style from Aomori, northern Japan. Fantastic CD of remasted recordings from his heyday for Crown Records. High quality in sound and performance. 18 tracks both solo and accompanied. Brilliant.
The legendary performer of the fast picking, exciting style of shamisen playing from Tsugaru (Aomori prefecture). Captured live at Shibuya's 'Jean Jean' in the recently deceased player's heyday.
2004 Tsugaru Shamisen Zenkoku Taikai
Tsugaru shamisen is the fast plucking style on the three stringed lute. In the last few years the music has found a new young audience with a succession of new young players, from Shinichi Kinoshita to the Yoshida Brothers and Hiromitsu Agatsuma. All these players came to public attention and started on the road to success by competing in the Tsugaru Shamisen Zenkoku Taiko, the national competition. This is a live recording of the 2004 competition, and is therefore bound to feature some of future stars of shamisen.
Brilliant Tsugaru shamisen player, intricate patterns,solo and accompanied.
CHISATO YAMADA & KATSUAKI SAWADA
Jam Session of Tsugaru Shamisen
Two exciting tsugaru shamisen players jamming together, with occasional shakuahahi and perscussion accompaniment.
YUJIRO TAKAHASHI with KATSUAKI SAWADA
Oku No Yorimichi
Wonderful album of mainly solo tsugaru shamisen (flute) with some tracks accompanied by shakuhachi (bamboo flute), and some singing too. Superb album from one of the best shamisen players in Japan. Traditional, but very much alive and thriving.
KATSUAKI SAWADA & SHIGERI KITSU
Tsuru To Kame 2 - Ai No Kaze
Tsugaru shamisen is normally a solo style. Fast and semi-improvised, a succession of young players have popularized the music in recent years. This album is tsugaru and other shamisen styles together with some great singing by male shamisen player Katsuaki Sawada, and female taiko drummer and singer Shigeri Kitsu. Superb singing and fantastic playing make this a stellar release. Hypnotic and powerful, comes with English liner notes.
The biwa is the Japanese version of the lute with its origins in Japan and India dating back to around the 3rd century. By the 10th century, two blind priests had developed styles in the south of Kyushu, founding the main schools of Chikuzan and Satsuma. Originally singing priests would travel from village to village singing a kind of magic sutra for an angry god. During the Kamakura period (1185-1333) the great narrative tradition, heikebiwa was founded, with the Tale of the Heike becoming an important literary and musical genre. The biwa has a twangy sound, due to its long elastic strings, when amplified by the body producing the characteristic 'rattle' or 'sawari'. This excellent CD features five of the best known biwa repertroire played by the instrument's most famous exponents. 1.Ibaraki 2.Dannoura 3.Gion Shoja 4.Yoshinoyama 5.Fue to Biwa no Tameno Gyo.
MARI UEHARA, SEISHU SUDA
Tsurebiwa - Kiyomori 1
Two biwa players narrate an episode of 'Tairano Kiyomori' from the classic Tale of the Heike (Heike Monogatari). Mari Uehara plays Chikuzen biwa from Fukuoka and Seishu Suda plays Satsuma biwa from Kagoshima, with the accompaniment of yokobue (flute). Tale of the Heike was originally written for biwa accompaniment and tells the battles of the Taira and Minamoto clans. It set the standard by which many warriors vowed to live.
MARI UEHARA, SEISHU SUDA
Tsurebiwa - Kiyomori 2
Volume 2 of the episode from the classic biwa narritive 'Tale of the Heike'. The great biwa narrative tradition, heikebiwa, was founded during the Kamakura period afterwhich the Tale of the Heike became an important literary and musical genre. Excellent recording and performance of this classic tale.
MARI UEHARA, SEISHU SUDA
Tsurebiwa - Kiyomori 3
Volume 3 of the episode 'Tairano Kiyomori' from the biwa classic narrative, 'Tale of the Heike'. Heikebiwa was a very popular style of music. The themes of the Tale of the Heike encompassed bravery in battle and fidelity at home. It also provided a source of livelihood for blind biwa players.
MARI UEHARA, SEISHU SUDA
Tsurebiwa - Kiyomori 4
Part 4 and final part of the episode 'Tairano Kiyomori' from the classic narrative 'Tale of the Heike'. The common version is comprised of two hundred such episodes, themselves divided into phrases which have a fixed singing manner. Between these phrases other melodies are played on the biwa. The tempo and mode and each musical phrase are all strictly regulated. Heikebiwa played an extremely important role in the development of Japanese narrative music.