Thursday, September 14, 2006

Aug 4-9, Japan: Kuriharan-ji, J-san


Gonna try to make an effort to bring my blogging into the present by catching up on the last month or so...

Aug 4: Before coming to Japan I was hoping to stay with my friends Taro & Yuriko Terahara, who live near Narita Airport (comparatively speaking - Tokyo is a big place). However at the last minute things fell through and I was lucky enough to be welcomed by Taka & Kei Kurihara over on the other side of Tokyo in Hachioji.

Taka Kurihara
(aka Takasitar aka Kuriharan) performs Indian classical music on sitar and vocal - I first met him at his vocal concert at Otoya-Kintoki two years ago and was impressed not only by his musical sense but by his sense of humour. Indian classical vocal can be very serious so it's really nice to see someone who takes the music very seriously but not themselves. Someone who dives with full devotion and heart into the potentially ridiculous possibilities (eg gamak) of Indian classical vocal, and not only takes you on a journey but puts a smile on your face.

I had been doubting my reasons for coming to Japan this time but one jam with Kuriharan-ji brought back all the joy, excitement and inspiration that Indian classical music has to offer, which keeps pulling me back here, where so many people are pursuing that mystical experience with such sincerity. This is what music is all about!

Not only is Taka-san a tasty Indian classical musician, he has also just produced a CD called "Jantar Night" under the name Takasitar. It features Indian instruments including sitar, harmonium, tabla and vocals, along with samples of Indian voices and sounds. Just like his singing, the music has a great balance of light and dark, both tasty and quirky. I can see a lot of potential for soundtrack work for this man, too.

On Aug 8 I got together with my old Benares buddy, Junichi Osako, another tasty sitar-player for a concert at Otoya-Kintoki, world music venue in Nishi-Ogikubo.
OtoKin has world music, often Indian classical, every night and a lot of the audience know their stuff. There were quite a few sitar and tabla students and other Japanese friends from Benares there. There's a great "club" of Indian music devotees over here, everyone doing their best, improving year-by-year, playing with full energy and enjoyment. Unfortunately I can't say the same about Australia :-(

Junichi & I have a great connection in our music. Perhaps I can follow his playing more closely than any other player. J has a great rhythm sense and excellent use of dynamics too. Many of the audience commented that it was a very emotionally moving performance. Raga aficionados might like to know that the first set was Raag Jhinjhoti, gat in jhaptaal; the second set was Raag Kaunsi Kanada, gat in teentaal.

With no concerts in Tokyo for a few weeks, I headed off to my Kanto-country retreat-cum-EthnoSuperLounge basecamp, the Greenhouse...

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