Shirley Kazuyo Muramoto continues a legacy of Japanese koto in the U.S. with roots in the internment camps of World War II, part of a three generation koto dynasty in her family. She holds a DaiShihan master's degree from the Ikuta school known as Chikushi Kai. Muramoto continues to explore new avenues for koto, within the traditional and new techniques developing for koto. She also leads the San Francisco-based world jazz fusion group, the Murasaki Ensemble.
"Koto Images" features contemporary koto works of Japanese composers Katsuko Chikushi, Michio Miyagi and Katsutoshi Nagasawa, as well as Kimio Eto. There are 3 koto solos and 3 duets, partnered with western instruments. The perennial "Haru No Umi", which is most often heard with the shakuhachi (bamboo flute), is played here on the violin by Irene Sazar, who performed with the Turtle Island String Quartet. Greatly inspired by Kimio Eto, a blind koto musician who visited the Bay Area when Muramoto was a child, "Omoide" is dedicated to him on this album.
“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)