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.
PRIME NUMBERS NOTES:
A prime number is a whole number that cannot be divided without a remainder by any whole number except itself and one. Of course prime also means first in rank or importance, original, fundamental. It just so happens that the traditional Japanese instruments used here all contain prime numbers: 3-stringed shamisen, 5-holed shakuhachi, 13-stringed koto, and 17-stringed bass koto.
This also points to a basic fundamental of Japanese arts in general: things are deliberately simplified, often understated, to create a very special kind of space. This is true of traditional Japanese music and the instruments themselves…we have ten fingers, why only five holes on the shakuhachi? The contemporary music recorded here covers a broad range of textures some of which have definitely not been deliberately simplified. As with much of my music, there are influences from many parts of the world—Japan, Europe, India, and Africa. You can fine free rhythm, odd meters, polyrhythm, polyphony, pentatonic and diatonic scales, and even an imitation of African Pygmy yodeling in five.
“Simple” instruments made of natural materials, recorded in a natural wood hall, direct to digital 2-track recording, wonderful recording engineers, and good musician friends to share some sounds with…add it all together and you get Prime Numbers!
John Kaizan Neptune - shakuhachi
Ysuko Watanabe - koto
Hideaki Kuribayashi - bass koto
Akiko Nishigata - shamisen
Watanabe Ensemble - koto