"Newcomer of the Year---Hanz Araki"
He is from Seattle. We had never heard of him. Then, WHAM! His album, Six of One 5 of the Other hit our desk. Araki is a terrific flute player, and a truly terrific singer. It is very rare to find a talent this good on an instrument who also sings this well. Lots of great musicians think they sing well, and are dreadful. Not Araki. We only talked to him once. We still don't know a lot about him personally, but what we DO know is that he has offered this amazing first album. Wow! This is a big time talent---and as we said in the full review, this boy can play and sing!! We love this album. We love this talent.
-- Bill Margeson, www.liveireland.com
KLCC "Best Music of 2004" List - Eugene, OR
"From rainy Seattle comes the wonderfully sunny sounding group An Tua, fronted by singer and flute/whistle player Hanz Araki (once of The Paperboys), who's joined by a varying cast of accompanists on guitar, mandolin, fiddle, bass, and light percussion. Six of One is a consistently pleasing collection named for its contents, six traditional songs and five tune sets. The disc alternates fresh arrangements of ballads that showcase Araki's smooth tenor vocals, like a jazzy, syncopated arrangement of "Jock O'Hazeldean" and a brisk but sensitive take of "Plains of Waterloo," with medleys of reels and jigs driven by his masterful wooden flute playing, which is sweet and lush and full of feeling and nuance."
-- Dirty Linen
"One of a generation of global beat players who adapt to whatever genre fascinates them, Araki has turned his considerable chops to mastering the Irish flute. On his debut CD, he has surrounded himself with some of the Northwest's finest young sidemen and women. He gives a wonderful rhythmic spin to the trans-Atlantic chestnut "Reynardine," and does the same for "Jock O'Hazeldean," arranged for guitar and bass by Araki and Zak Borden. Araki's flute playing ranges from fiery ("The Devils of Dublin") to sweet ("Bocht Agus Sona") and shows his complete mastery of Irish flute style. My favorite moment in this CD, however, is his and vocalist Nancy Conescu's arrangement of the song "The Boys of Barr Na Sride." We need to hear more from Araki ... and soon!"
"His singing is great! and great care is taken with each tune and song..."
-- Niamh Parsons
The next generation of Trad music --- "New. Fresh. Brill."
Irish flute player Hanz Araki is the quintessential world music musician. He has performed around the world with Irish music groups such as the Juno Award-winning Paperboys and the "sexed up" fiddle duo, The Bridies, is featured on more than a dozen recordings and soundtracks, including a Japanese video game, and tours frequently in Japan.
He is a favorite performer at festivals across the United States, from the Northwest Folklife Festival in Seattle to the Milwaukee Irish Festival to celtic Connections in Glasgow, Scotland. As one concert promoter said of Hanz’s performance: "His music transports me to some distant place and holds me there for an entire performance. Hanz Araki is a modern-day master of the Irish flute and he incorporates subtle elements into his playing style so that it never grows stale, no matter how many times I hear it." (Norm Johnson, Seattle-area concert promoter)
While his love is Irish music, his deep roots are in the shakuhachi, the traditional bamboo "Zen flute" of Japan. Hanz (short for Hanzaburo) is the world’s only sixth generation shakuhachi player, following in the footsteps of his father, Kinko Ryu Grand Master Kodo Araki V. With no prior musical training, Hanz took up the shakuhachi at age 17. Under his father’s tutelage, four months later he made his concert debut in Shimoneski, Japan. He went on to teach shakuhachi at Keio University for two years before moving back to his hometown of Seattle in 1991.
There, his American mother’s Gaelic roots came into play, and he began teaching himself simple Irish and Scottish tunes on the flute and whistle. As he puts it, "This was to be my undoing." He soon fell in with the lively Irish music scene in Seattle, inspired by the world class players there.
Hanz went on to tour internationally with The Paperboys and The Casey Neill Trio, and in 2004 released an album of traditional Scottish and Irish music with a fresh new slant, "Six of One, Five of the Other." It has been favorably received by fans and Irish music aficionados with comments such as "What a great piece of business this is. Araki has a perfect voice for the songs, and is a wonderful, wonderful flute player. New. Fresh. Brill." (Bill Margeson, www.liveireland.com)