For centuries, it was almost unheard of for a white person to play the shakuhachi, an Asian bamboo flute that was brought to Japan by Chinese travelers in the eighth century and eventually became Japan's most famous wind instrument. But technology made the world seem much smaller in the 20th century, and these days, it isn't impossible to find white musicians from North America, England, or Australia who can play the instrument well. A perfect example is the Texas-born Riley Lee, whose mastery of the shakuhachi is evident on this tranquil, peaceful CD. Offering a sample of recordings that he made in the 1990s, Postcards From Bundanon: The Very Best of Riley Lee isn't the last word on his shakuhachi playing but is still a good place for novices to get acquainted with it. Lee isn't a purist; some of the material favors a traditional Japanese approach, but much of it has a more global and multicultural outlook. The musicians who join Lee are heard playing everything from Indian tabla drums to the didgeridoo, an instrument that was created by Australian aboriginals. Those aren't exactly traditional Japanese instruments, and hearing them alongside the shakuhachi only adds to the intrigue. Back in the 17th and 18th centuries, Japanese Buddhist monks who mastered the shakuhachi were hardly known for their use of Indian or aboriginal instruments -- and back then, shakuhachi players didn't have Anglo names like Riley Lee. But again, technology made the world feel a lot smaller, and it made it easier for Lee to take the sort of chances that he takes on this consistently interesting CD.
|Label:||New World Music|