Kimio Eto

Koto and Flute

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Koto and Flute Review

by Ken Dryden

Although Bud Shank was the more familiar name when World Pacific released this album of Japanese music in 1960, koto player Kimio Eto is the leader on the date and also composed three of the songs heard on this unusual duo session. Eto's 13-string instrument, which had been in use in Japan for many centuries, is one that many Westerners have not heard extensively, yet its capabilities are brought out by his obvious mastery of the instrument, which is even more remarkable given that he became blind at the age of five. Shank's flute adds a haunting touch to most of the compositions, as the jazz musician readily adapts to this challenging and unfamiliar material, making it sound as if he has played it as part of his regular repertoire. Unfortunately, this LP (the second of at least three that Eto recorded for Richard Bock's World Pacific label) has long been out of print and seems to be an unlikely candidate for reissue, though fans of traditional Japanese music and those familiar with Shank's jazz recordings will enjoy this gorgeous album.

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