Okinawa Zento Odori Uta Ketteiban

A new compilation album of Okinawan music is released by Tokyo’s Respect label on the 26th January. Okinawa Zento Odori Uta Ketteiban is subtitled ‘Katcharsee Rokucho Kuicha Butoh’ and is really a companion to the previous Respect release Okinawa Omedetai Uta Ketteiban which was reviewed here in an earlier post in July.

The first album contained a selection of songs of celebration from around the Ryukyu Islands while this new release features a variety of Okinawan dance songs and music. As well as the familiar lively katcharsee dance tunes we get rokucho from the Yaeyama Islands, kuicha from the Miyako Islands, and also butoh which is familiar to both the Ryukyus and Japan.

The 13 track CD begins with the traditional ‘Rokucho’ from Yaeyama followed by two songs from Taketomi island – ‘Mamidoma’ and ‘Kudaka Bushi’. The four types of dance are represented equally on the album which ends with an Okinawan katcharsee medley of ‘Harikuyamaku’, ‘Toshin Doi’, and ‘Kadiku’. But there’s also a ‘bonus track’. This is ‘Utsubi nu Uta’ which was written by Shizuka Oshiro and is sung to celebrate Okinawan birthdays, and particularly those for the special years 85, 88, and 97.

As on the previous Ketteiban album the songs are performed by the Shizuka Oshiro Minyo Group and others, including the Yui nu kai and Shigeo Namihira. Most, if not all, of these songs will already be well-known to Okinawans and to those interested in their music, and the recordings are of performances all played in the standard way with no surprises or great variations. Full credit to Respect Records though for making them available and supporting island music.

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