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I’ve recently added a whole bunch of information on my website: many new projects and collaborations are underway and in the process.  Please stay tuned and visit me at my website for more information on my upcoming concerts and shows.

From January 20-22,  I’ll be going to the UCSD Alumni Festival, held at the incredible new arts building (as well as other on-campus locations) at the University of California, San Diego.  This is a festival-not-to-be-missed.  I’ll be posting photos and sounds and documenting it as much as possible.  I’ll be performing with my world-class alumni friends who will be coming from all over the world to this reunion.  If you’re in San Diego, don’t miss it…

A rabbit is quiet, gentle, has very big ears and a very small mouth. If everyone listened (deeply would be nice) twice as much as we talked, perhaps the world would be a more peaceful place.  A rabbit has soft fur, eats fresh foods and has many friends (well…and many children too).  There is a Japanese folktale based on Buddhist Tale Śaśajâtaka (Jataka Tale 316), which is also told in the Japanese tale, Konjaku Monogatari (今昔物語, in late Heian Period, 794~1185).  This is the tale of the Moon Rabbit, the rabbit you can see in the Moon…have you ever tried to see a rabbit in the Moon?  I never saw it until I went to Japan… it was there!  In this story, the rabbit is depicted to be a compassionate soul, who offered its own body as food for a hungry old man – the rabbit had only grass to offer, while other animals had various food such as fish, meat and milk. The old man, who was actually a deity Śakra raised the rabbit to the moon to honor its virtue.What if we used this year, the year of the rabbit as a model for our own actions.  Not that we have to have a lot of children, but perhaps we can become more compassionate beings…offer ourselves to others, every day, even if just a litte…even if just a smile…

This winter I took a drive with a new lovely friend named Scott and explored the incredible mountains of Colorado. I’d never before seen such an inspirational snow-covered Wonderland.  Breathtaking…

I’ll post photos as soon as I can…

Well, I think the photos may speak for themselves but I arrived teaching at UCCS in the summer and haven’t stopped since.  My full-time instructorship includes teaching Chamber Music Ensemble, Jazz History, 20th C. Music History and co-teaching with Professor Curt Smith an interdisciplinary course called Creativity which rocks… of course!

So between the many hours researching &preparing as well as finding time for walks in the mountains, I’m having a glorious time.  I’ll be posting more events, soundbites and upcoming activities during the next few months.  Looking forward to getting back to blogging!

I’ve missed you.

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I am so eager to share my first-time efforts as a videographer!  Although it’s a steep learning curve, I’ve decided to take advantage of my interest in sound, movement, textures, transitions, spaces, and relationships as points of departure for this edit … This video documentation focuses on 2 very intense days on Sado Island in April this year. So please remember that while some of the images are not prime, I hope that the intensity and playfulness of that experience will come through.  The drumming is intriguing.  But even more, are the people of Sado Island.  With the help of my friend Hisako Horikawa, I was able to explore places I never would have been able to on my own.  I hope to continue working on this video, or at the very least, this process is giving me valuable learning skills for my next one…

Thank you so much, to the people of Sadogashima, for your dedication to your traditions, for your intensity, joy, playfulness and generosity.  I dedicate this to you, and I look forward to returning some day. Until then, drum and dance on! And may the Oni bite you and bring you all the Best of Luck for this year!

Now I find myself in the Appalachian Mountains.  How did that happen?  From ancient Buddhist temples, Oni-demon taiko drums on windy islands and the ruthlessly boisterous Tokyo life, to the mountains of soothing green solitude.  After days of zombitude-jetlag, I am now finding my energy again.  Although the amount of video and audio to upload for this blog is overwhelming, I’m going to gradually get to it, little by little.  Here are more recent photos of  Hambidge... a beautiful, relaxing, respite… besides relaxing and getting to know some other very special people, I’m actually getting a lot of other projects done!

Dear friends,

I’ve only barely returned from Niigata and Sado Island, and I have so much to share with you.  Later, more info will be posted about the wonderfully magical concert at the Sakyukan (in Niigata city) with Hisako Horikawa, but for now, let’s explore the Onidaiko Matsuri, the oni (demon)/shishi (lion) festival (actually, many festivals held at once throughout the island).  Here’s a great blog that explains some of the history.

Hisako Horikawa, Michele Kong and I rented a car and drove all around the island, chasing the festivities that were taking place in practically every small town…Although the weather was freezing, alternating rain, sun, hail, wind (this is spring?), we were warmed by the many charming people, who seemed thrilled we were there.  They graciously welcomed us, not only to join them in their house-to-house visits, but they offered us their food, and often invited us (complete strangers) into their homes.  The drumming and dancing was spectacular, the food divine, and the festivities intense and exciting…

Some of the places we explored:  The Ryotsu Port area, Hiramatsu, Takachi, Ishi-Hanabi, Ishige, Mianmi-katabe, Shimbo, Saruhachi, Oda, Oda-Nishi…

I’m not sure yet just how deeply or in what way these experiences have affected me.  I only know, without a doubt, that something in me is permanently altered!  Soon, I’ll post some videos from those few days…

So, if you haven’t noticed by now, my work involves collaborations…of/with many different kinds of people, artists, places… I see collaborations as a medium to communicate with other artists, as well as with “non” (self-proclaimed)-artists and venues.  So far here in Japan, I’ve played in small cafes, clubs, hip performing venues and even a rice warehouse.  The International House of Japan, however, has so far been the icing on the cake, not just for it’s beautiful building and performing space, but also for the incredible garden, which also played a part in last week’s show with the Stringraphy Ensemble, the marvelous sho player Ko Ishikawa and the striking Hitomi Nakamura on hichiriki.  As you can see here, strings were stretched all across the room, while Hitomi, Ko and I roamed between the strings.  The packed house not only listened attentively, but later gleefully participated when encouraged to play the strings and percussion instruments… During the performance, the Stringraphy Ensemble, Ko, Hitomi and I accompanied the voice of Dr. Kumi Kato reciting poetry both in English and Japanese creating a link between the voice (our vocal chords, the strings across the room), the space, the instruments, the garden…and multiple other connecting threads. My greatest wish is that one collaboration will eventually unfold itself to become many other new kinds of collaborations…

It’s been a cold Spring.  At least the flowers aren’t deterred.  I’m not either.  Many of the flowers in my neighborhood are starting to fall, so in honor of the impermanence of the fragile beauty, I carry my camera everywhere, ready to take a shot of anything that seems even slightly gorgeous… Fortunately for me, I’ve stumbled on to some rather exquisite images… Even in today’s gray dampness, I found the flowers delicious.  Literally, I wanted to eat them.  Taking photos is the best way I know how to “consume” them. I wish I wasn’t so greedy.  But at least I get to share them, even merely vicariously, with you.

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Hanami, which is “flower watching” refers to sitting around, all day, drinking and eating under a cherry blossom tree.  I can’t think of anything better than this during Spring!  And apparently neither can hundreds of thousands of Japanese either.  Businesses send their workers out to a park to place a blue tarp on the ground and literally hang out all day (in shifts with other workers) in order to “claim” a good spot under a tree so that everyone can go there after work and hang out for several more hours.  In the meantime, everyone brings champagne, wine, beer, and pretty much, anything else …and the drinking starts around 11am…and goes non-stop all day.  This Spring it has been unusually cold, rainy and windy, so I haven’t been hanging out with everyone else.  I’m fighting off my own cold at the moment, so my views of the Sakura here in Tokyo have been sparse so far.  Nonetheless, I’ve gotten some pretty amazing shots already. Please enjoy!  It really is overwhelmingly beautiful…

Instead of a Grand Finale, this last month will be the Grand Beginning.  I will be returning to Japan…eventually. Although future dates are not set yet, I am certain that the seeds I’ve planted will be nourished and with time, the threads will pull me back to this wonderful country and it’s stunning people…  For now, I have many updates since my trip to Wakayama. First I seemed to have accidently neglected to upload my beautiful trip to Hiroshima’s Itsukushima Shrine, which I took before arriving to Wakayama.  This small island, only about 15 minutes by boat off the coast of Hirohsima, was so breathtaking, I spent several hours roaming around.  The huge bright orange O-Torii sits in the water, and the shrine itself is surrounded by water during high tide.  I arrived during low tide, which gave me an opportunity to put a 5-yen coin in the pillars of the Torii as well as watch many people hunt for clams.   I was thoroughly entertained by watching the people and the animals (many hawks were also hunting clams) than almost anything else.  I’m sorry all the photos are not separated.  I can’t seem to figure out how to format the photos in a different way… but below are Itsukushima, the Chef d’Oeuvre and Cypher Cafe gigs…

After Hiroshima and Wakayama, I headed off to Kyoto. As you can see in the previous posts, the  Daigoji temple is breathtaking.  That same weekend, I visited the lovely Shinnyo-en Yuon Sanctuary, and the Toji Temple where I had a conversation with one of Kukai’s Buddha statues (ask me about it sometime…).  Later that week, after celebrating a memorable birthday at the Byodoin Temple with Kumi, I went to Osaka to perform with several wonderful improvising musicians.  We all had a great time, and I look forward to keeping in touch with the Osaka free improvising scene…

All the Chef d’oeuvre photos were taken by Jerry Gordon, who played the following night at Cypher Cafe.  Those photos were taken by my lovely new friends Pier Gajewski and Carole Sionnet.  It was a memorably cozy and extremely diverse evening!  And the food was 100% organic and vegetarian…a very unusual find here in Japan and much appreciated…

more photos and soon some audio clips from my Yokohama performance with Marcos Fernandez and mori-shige coming up…as well as SAKURA blossoms in Tokyo… there’s just so much to share with you…

Looks like I got a review in the Wakayama post!  Although I haven’t gotten it translated yet, my friend Kumi mentioned they were all happy…so it seems like a good review.  At least the photo is good!

wakayama_31910

Free Improvisation is alive and thriving in Osaka.  I played 2 totally different concerts back-to-back each one in a cafe in the center of the city.  It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience to meet new people, be challenged musically and create new friendships.  The first night on Mar. 26th, with Reiko Imanishi (koto), Shin’ichi Isohata (guitar) and Tim Olive (guitar) involved 3 duos (me with each of them) and then a final quartet.  Each duo explored uncharted musical territory, from bouncing fragments of quasi melodic fragments to tearing apart all concepts of recognized sonic patterns to reinventing ancient melodies.  I think we were all surprised by the music, by the quality, intensity and depth of it.

The 27th was a surprising evening where if I may be permitted to describe it as “Japanese” in the sense that about 20 people were literally squeezed into a tiny (all organic, vegetarian) cafe to enjoy several hours of music (probably stretched out to around 4 total of “hanging out”).  People didn’t seem to mind waiting. Although everyone was practically sitting on each other’s lap or crawling over other people, no one seemed uncomfortable.  The closeness, or rather, intimacy of the evening provided an opportunity for almost everyone to talk and meet.  This friendly, open environment is conducive to this free improvisation music, which requires patience, an open mind, and lots of good vibes, all of which were in abundance.

I look forward to keeping in touch with the Osaka Free Improvisation scene.  It certainly has provided me another rich opportunity for performing and reflection about music in space and community.

photos coming soon…

Here’s a list of the next concert before I leave.  I’m really looking forward to each of them and playing with spectacular musicians…
March 26: Osaka, Chef d’Oeuvre, 7:30pm, 1000 yen. (〒550-0011大阪市西区阿波座1-9-12 (Awaza 1-9-12 Nishiku Osaka city); tel/fax: 06-6533-0770).  “Existence: Tubes & Strings” with Reiko Imanishi (koto) & Tim Olive (guitar) and Shin’ichi Isohata (guitar)

March 27: Osaka, Cypher Cafe, 4pm, donation. Click on Cypher Cafe link for more info.

March 31: Yokohama, Shichoushitsu Sono 2 • 試聴室その2,  7:30pm, with Marcos Fernandes (perc), Mori Shige (cello)

April 6: Tokyo,   International House of Japan 7pm, free with reservation.  Moving Sounds: Connecting Cultural Threads. Jane Rigler and Friends.  Call 03-3470-3211 or email at the website.

April 18: Niigata, Sakyukan Gallery, 4pm, 2,000 yen.  With Butoh performer Hisako Horikawa. more details coming soon.

April 24: Tokyo, Koen Doori Classic, 6:30pm, 3,000 yen. With Christopher Blasdel, shakuhachi, Mika Kimula, voice, Hitomi Nakamura, hichiriki and Kazue Tajima, sho.  more details coming soon, or click on site.

April 28: Tokyo, Kid Ailack Concert Hall, 7:30pm, 2500 yen. With Tetsu Saitoh, contrabass. See website for more details

Thanks to the love of family and friends, I’ve had a really incredible day…

Byodo-in, an amazing place...The Pure Land on Earth

in Uji, the capital of Green Tea, we had Green Tea Soba for lunch. YUM!

Rainy day captures other beauty...please click to enlarge to see the magic

The most southern part of Japan that I will be lucky enough to visit will have been Wakayama, where environmentalist Dr. Kumi Kato lives and teaches at the University.  I spent several days with her, culminating in an Interactive Concert in which we collaborated together. She chose several beautiful poems to recite for which I provide the soundscape…with breath and tube in hand.  Recently, a friend of mine, Nobuko Awaya, called me an “Air-ist” instead of a flut-ist, a term, I am very fond of.  So feel free to call me an Airist, if flutist doesn’t suit you, although people might get the impression that I fly through the air rather than shape sounds with it.  No matter….I’d also prefer to fly through it, if I could…

Kumi and I had rich conversations about our corresponding work and the invisible place where our worlds meet: art and environmental activism.  I am currently creating a proposal that joins our efforts to help instigate creative collaborations, strengthen community artistic events and evokes awareness  of the environment.  The relevance and depth of our joint efforts was evident during the concert, which I believe clearly demonstrated to all who attended that there is much to be done in the area of artistic environmental awareness.  More on this later…but in the meantime, feel free to visit Kumi’s blog and learn more…

So here are some sights (audio excerpts will come at some point) from the Wakayama show.  If it looks like we’re all having fun, it’s because we are!  This was the first show at a new community center the city opened only 2 weeks before.  Besides students and local folks, several city officials attended the concert.  I hope this event might help spark many future collaborative art events and a thriving artist community right in the heart of Wakayama for many years to come.  I was thrilled to be given the (very last minute!) opportunity to be a part of this growing dream…

gambate!

and now it’s March 23rd: officially Spring.  Today I’ve updated the Sakura events. Being here in Kyoto for a second time is magical.  The city is transformed and the trees are just beginning to bloom. Those trees that have not yet bloomed have a Pink Shadow to them; their branches are filled with bright pink buds, predicting what is to come.  Please enjoy…

*****

Ok, I confess.  Here are some of the reasons why I chose to wait until late last year to begin my residency in Japan:  save money for the trip (check!), avoid another harsh NY-style winter (phew! check!), develop more contacts before arriving, study Japanese, practice in Japan for the Buddhist Winter Training period (check 3!), and…last but not least: experience the Sakura!! The Era of Cherry Blossoms has arrived!

It’s been a long wait for me, more than 4 months… but here they are, finally coming out… it’s utterly breathtaking.  These photos are a series starting in Wakayama… plenty more to come.  The luminosity of the petals is overwhelming. These were all taken on the grounds of the Wakayama castle.  Kyoto, here I come…

So here are some photos of my time in Fukuoka.  Studio Kura is actually not located in Fukuoka city, but outside in Itoshima (the combined name of two different cities, Ito and Shima).  One day, Hiro-san took me to a nearby Buddhist temple. There, we were treated to a lovely tour of the ancient temple (established 1000 years ago, so yes, ancient is the word).  The priest served us delicious tea and sweets and told us about the concerts they sponsor there twice a year.  I was immediately drawn to the little girl who lives there.  Totally adorable.

Later that day, I took a walk around the Studio Kura and found a small beach. At first, I was delighted…I consider the ocean my home.  But then, I was distraught to see all the garbage.  So you get to see a glimpse of what arrives on this shore.  Deciding I wanted to go up the mountains instead, I followed the red Torii gates up to the top where a lovely little shrine sits with cow, horse, Fudo-Myoo, and other residents…

After my concert, my new friend Peter Krauss took me to another nearby shrine overlooking the Itoshima area.  Later, he and his lovely girlfriend, Keiko drove me around, leaving Fukuoka prefecture and entering into the Saga Prefecture.  There, they showed me ancient islands off the coast (not far from South Korea), and the Karatsu castle.  Keiko and I roamed around a hauntingly beautiful forest by the beach. It was a perfect setting for a mysterious story… Afterwards, we all enjoyed refreshing ourselves in what they defined as the “jungle onsen”, which was indeed gorgeous:  sitting in the steamy water, on large rocks and amidst foliage and trees.  Here, you can also see the beginnings of the cherry blossoms… Really lovely…

Being in Fukuoka was extremely productive.  During this time, I stayed in the studio of visual artist Hirofumi Matsuzaki at Studio Kura.  Soon, I’ll post the video of the concert, but in the meantime, here’s another piece I worked on while there. This is a work for 3 piccolos. I recorded an improvisation late at night in their rice warehouse, and later edited it for 3 piccolos. It may sound like there’s sound processing or some kind of electronic manipulation, but in actuality 3 piccolo players without any electronics and using only their instruments, breath and voice could recreate this piece.  I’m still thinking of a title… any ideas?3 Piccolos @ Studio Kura

More photos too…

Party before the show!

intro

Everyone together!

A happy volunteer conducts

trying to convince Grandma to play too. She preferred to laugh and enjoy from the sidelines.

and now Presenting the Studio Kura Ensemble!

Peter Krauss prensents his first exhibit of Urushi here in Japan! Beautiful work!

Relaxing after the show with friends

some couldn't stop playing! awesome...

Finally quiet and trying to focus.  I’m creating a few “electronic etudes”, very short pieces inspired by the many recordings I’ve taken during that past few months.  I can’t seem to escape the cars, trucks or planes no matter where I go. Even here, in the “countryside” of Fukuoka, the 120 year-old house I’m staying in is located next to a highway that is busy 24 hours a day.  So, I’m doing my best, with the materials at hand to create a few pieces and turn my life experiences into “studies of sound”. Here is a few I’m willing to share at this point.  They are both inspired by sounds from the Chihan House, in the Izu Peninsula where I stayed in February.

Looking forward to hearing your comments.

Thanks for listening.

ohito_etude2

ohito_etude1mix

view from my window at the Kura Studio

view from my window

inside the studio

view from inside the studio

As of yesterday, Part 3, the final part of my stay in Japan, begins.  Officially, my fellowship will end on April 6th, with my performance at the International House of Japan.  But I will use my savings to continue nurturing my relationships with the artists I’ve met as well as travel and play at least 3 more concerts after the I House show… more details to come shortly.

My Noh Sensei(s) (teachers) are a Mother-Daughter team Uzawa Hisa, and Uzawa Hikaru.  Here’s their link.

Though it’s all in Japanese, you can click around and see their photos … they are giving me a crash course in Noh Shimai (dance/vocals) and I’m so honored to work with them.  Their generosity and graciousness, as well as interest in what I do is extremely humbling and inspiring.  Through studying Noh, I am learning more about the space and time within me.  I’m learning how to contain emotion; to express emotion with simplicity, line, flow and grace, rather than my usual way of emoting histrionically.  What is “theatrics” anyway?  My sense of drama was (still is) extremely one-dimensional.  I’m learning that depth of emotion and expression can be inherent in a simple act such as picking up a pen, a fan…or perhaps a flute.  Flow, resistance, tension and release is already is inherent in the smallest of actions, and there is no need to move (or “try” to express) more than necessary.

“Simplicity is elegance.”

Simplicity of emotion, simplicity of movement, simplicity of words, simplicity of action.  Keeping it all clear. Pure. Clearing the mind.  This is my goal at least for now.  To obtain this clarity of mind.

As I pack my bags for a 3-week trip, I will focus each step on this kind of elegance.

It was a great pleasure to join Stringraphy this past Friday and Saturday nights.  Together we entertained almost 30 guests each night in an intimate setting of Kazue Mizushima’s Studio Eve.  It was an honor to play with such lovely people and musicians.  Looking forward to exploring more of the world of long strings, the breath and motion in our April 6th show at the IHouse…

more about that later…

for now, here are some cute shots, taken by my friend Michele Kong (thanks Michele!)…