Ralph Samuelson

Offerings

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For centuries, the best known wind instrument in traditional Japanese music (as opposite to modern Japanese pop and pop-rock), has been the shakuhachi, a vertical bamboo flute. The very recognizable shakuhachi has been played extensively by Buddhist monks, who consider it a sacred tool of their spiritual life. Though the majority of shakuhachi players are Japanese, one American who has been playing it extensively since the late 1960s is Richard Samuelson. By the time Offerings was recorded, Samuelson had been playing the shakuhachi for almost 30 years and teaching it in the U.S. for close to 20. Unaccompanied, he sticks to traditional Japanese repertoire on the four meditational pieces that comprise Offering: the 19-minute "Shin Kyorei," the ten-minute "San'ya Sugagaki," the nine-minute "Oshu Sashi" and the four-minute "Choshi." The music is as haunting as it is tranquil, and after the CD is finished playing, the listener shares the feeling of tranquillity that Samuelson expresses. Recommended.

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