Various Artists

Japan: Music of the Koto

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Although the koto was actually created in China, it has enjoyed its greatest prominence in Japan; in fact, it is the most famous string instrument in traditional Japanese music. The very recognizable koto is one of the first instruments one thinks of when the subject of Japanese music comes up, and it was the instrument that jazz great McCoy Tyner chose to play when he combined jazz with Japanese music on his 1972 recording Valley of Life. This enjoyable CD, recorded in Tokyo, consists of traditional koto music (which is called sokyoku in Japan) and turns the spotlight on six different koto players: Kin'ichi Nakanoshima, Fumikatsu Yonekawa, Fumiko Yonekawa, Koji Inogawa, Masayasu Mishina, and Kiyoko Miyagi. The performances include koto duets as well as unaccompanied solo performances, and on "Haru No Umi" (a piece that was written in 1929), Miyagi performs a memorable duet with shakuhachi player Reibo Aoki. Recommended.

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