JOHN KAIZAN NEPTUNE
John Kaizan Neptune brings to the shakuhachi (bamboo flute) a new and dynamic sound and feeling entirely his own. A California-born American, Neptune received his master’s certificate in the Tozan School of Shakuhachi in 1977, at which time he was awarded the name “Kaizan” (“Sea Mountain”). He is the author of the book SHAKUHACHI, and has performed and recorded in many countries around the world. His second album, BAMBOO, was named Outstanding Record of the Year by the Cultural Affairs Agency of the Japanese Ministry of Education; subsequent albums (23 to date) and his concerts throughout Japan, Asia, Australia, America, and Europe have made his original music, from traditional Japanese to contemporary jazz, widely know and loved by people of all ages. Neptune, who is acknowledged to be among the top masters of the instrument in Japan, now lives in Kamogawa, Chiba-ken, where he continues to make, write for and experiment with the instrument he had adopted as his own.
This is the third album I have recorded in Chennai, India, with some additional recording in Japan. A truly multi-cultural project: shakuhachi and koto and guitar from Japan, bass and drums from Malaysia, string quartet and hand percussion from India.
I really like working with the string quartet with a hot rhythm section…add tabla, ghatam (clay pot), khanjira (tambourine), and the colors begin to flow!
Also included are two vocal songs. Manju Nigar is a lilting pilgrim song from South India sung by the beautiful husky voice of classical Indian singer Visalakshi Nityanand. The other song is a piece I wrote called Moments of Magic: while performing a solo meditation piece for shakuhachi at a concert I did for a retirement/nursing home in Japan, an old woman began to sing very loud and totally “out”. I didn’t know whether to stop or continue, but figured “Oh well, a duet for Zen shakuhachi and crazy old woman.” It was actually quite interesting. After I finished playing the woman stopped singing, and when I looked into the audience I could see tears in the eyes of the nurses who were in attendance. Later I asked the nurses what was going on they informed me that the woman who was singing had advanced Alzheimer’s disease, and had not spoken or reacted to anything for more than three years!
I am constantly amazed by the power of music and feel fortunate to be participating in that energy, and decided to write a song about that. My daughter Kai makes her recording debut here, and she also did the cover art for the album.
John Kaizan Neptune – shakuhachi
Takao Naoi – guitar
Andy Peterson – bass
Lewis Pragasam – drums
Sawako Fukuhara – koto
Prasad – tabla
Selvaganesh – khanjira
Giridhar Udupa – ghatam
Visalakshi Nityanand – voice
Kai Neptune – voice
Madras String Quartet:
V.S. Narasimhan – violin (solo)
Hermanthraj – violin
B. Japachandran – viola
V.R. Sekar - cello
Neptune in Review
“John Kaizan Neptune has expanded the possibilities of the Japanese shakuhachi flute to embrace the realms of jazz and fusion. At the same time, through many long years of training in the classical repertoire of the instrument, he has become one of the most outstanding exponents of the shakuhachi currently active in Japan. He is joined by musicians who together create music that transcends national boundaries and the origins of their instruments. It is surely music such as this which deserves the label of “World Music” and which is likely to serve as a steppingstone towards music of the future.” – Akira Ebato, University Ethnomusicologist
“At times Neptune and the rhythm section sounded as much Latin or Afro-Cuban as American or Asian. The walls are crumbling, and if results of this caliber can be achieved, we may as well stop worrying about categories.”
After hearing a live performance in LA – Leonard Feather, Jazz Critic