Motofumi Yamaguchi's long-awaited debut solo album will be released for sale by Otodaiku on December 1st. Recorded at Kodo Village using makobue flutes made from local Sado madake bamboo, this "home-grown" album has a deep, rich sound. With guest artists Akira Nino on piano, Takafumi Imaizumi on guitar, and vocals by Kodo's own Yoko Fujimoto, this is a collection of original songs and beautiful arrangements of folk favorites from around the world. Available from the Kodo Online Store and at Kodo December Concert Venues.
I heard you used makobue flutes on this album. What is a makobue flute?
It is a type of flute made from madake bamboo by flute maker Ranjo-san, and I have been using them for the last two years or so. In contrast to the delicate, soft tones of the shinobue, the makobue has a richer depth and fuller tone. I designed this album to make the most of the unique makobue sound.
You must have had a long list to choose from; how did you select the pieces that ended up on the album?
I chose to put new arrangements of pieces which I have performed for many years on stage, like Yamauta and Oyohdai. Then pieces like Kaigara-bushi and Danny Boy; they are songs that feel fresh and new every single time I play them. I wanted to make an album with these compositions and add some new pieces too. And as a bonus track, I added a nostalgic pre-WW2 melody. (Yamaguchi laughs).
Working with guest artists on the album, were there any challenges or new discoveries along the way?
It was my first time working with pianist Akira Nino and Takafumi Imaizumi on guitar, and it was so much fun. Their ideas just came one after the other and they would use chords I would never dream of asking for, and we made a lot of musical discoveries together. One surprisingly difficult piece was one I have played for so many years, Yamauta. I tried playing it on a ippon-choshi (#1 or F flute) unaccompanied, and it sounded almost like a shakuhachi, producing a rather interesting result. Getting it this piece right took the most out of me physically during the recording.
What will people encounter when they listen to this CD? What sort of mood does it create?
Everyone receives music differently, so it's hard to say. There is no one answer. Just like a painting has no pre-determined atmosphere or timing, I hope people will just listen to this CD openly and judge for themselves. I look forward to hearing where the music takes them.
Lastly, what is the message that you want to send out with this CD Ikkan Fugetsu?
Live music is a result of the performers and audience creating a unique space and time filled with sound, and they influence one another to create a unique performance. In contrast, a CD will always play the same every time you put it on. However, the interesting thing is that what does change is the listener. You can listen to the same CD in the same place everyday, but the song you heard yesterday won't always sound the same to you the next day. Recordings are great because they offer a hand to help you discover changes in yourself. Through this album, I really want to share these songs with as many people as possible, songs which continue to move my heart, these great pieces that I have been performing over the years.
Interviewer: Yoshiko Ando (Kodo)