Murasaki Ensemble's 4th album. More diverse sounds from this San Francisco-based world jazz fusion group. Shirley Kazuyo Muramoto, koto musician and the leader of the Murasaki Ensemble, brings together a fabulous group of musicians, each in expert in their own right: Vince Delgado on hand drums (riqq, tabla, congas, bongos, etc.), Matt Eakle-flute, Jeff Massanari-acoustic guitar and Alex Baum-upright string bass. Continuing to experiment with koto in a more jazz-centric way, mix of standards and world music, from "Sentimental Mood" and "And I Love Her", to "Marielle" and "Haru No Iro". Had to do one rhythmically challenging number, courtesy of Vince Delgado, on "On-ce", or "11" in Spanish, to the totally improvised "Ohmega". "Birds and Drums" by Matt Eakle, was inspired by shakuhachi master John Kaisan Neptune, an artist with whom we have shared the stage on occassion, has some great grooves in the solos.
Comments from critics and contemporaries:
“…The CDs available by the group, while highly enjoyable, give only a taste of the expansive imagination and passion their concert appearance revealed. They have my vote as the jazz group most deserving wider recognition. I’ve seen one facet of the future of jazz, and it draws radiance from a rising sun in the East.” (Norman Weinstein, All About Jazz.com)
“I am truly honored and privileged to know Shirley for so many years. Her koto playing and energy for constant creativity is inspirational to me. Her spirit and soul touches me deeply. I am forever grateful to her for her friendship and her sharing of musical knowledge and philosophies with me to help me grow as a musician and composer but most important as a person."
Hiroshima, jazz ensemble
“…The Murasaki Ensemble eschews the melting pot and aims for the ‘salad bowl’ model of ethnic integration in its music---continually shifting the spotlight between Shirley Muramoto’s koto playing, guitarist Jeff Massanari’s liquid jazz licks, and flutist Matt Eakle’s soul-tickling reed action. Percussionist Vince Delgado directs traffic with congas, bongos, Indian temple bells, and Egyptian tabla and riqq at his disposal. Their willingness to step outside traditional technique makes for a lively give-and-go sound…” (Howard Myint, The San Francisco Bay Guardian)