Hatoma Family: Yaninju no Hibiki

Here’s one that slipped through the net when it came out last year. The Hatoma Family are based in Ishigaki. Their best known member is Kanako Hatoma who was a teenage protégée of Sadao China who produced both of her solo albums. Her parents Takashi and Chiyoko run the Bashofu club in Ishigaki (featured elsewhere on this blog) and are both fine singers and sanshin players. Also musically active is Kanako’s brother Yoshiaki who joins them for this album. There are also contributions from cover stars Aki-oba (Takashi’s mother) and Yoshiko-oba (Chiyoko’s mother), guitarist, arranger and producer Shunsuke Suzuki from Tochigi, and Keiji Tsujikawa on fue.

The album contains mainly traditional songs from the Yaeyama Islands and also a few originals sung and played by various combinations of the family members. ‘Haisai Haisai Oba-san’ is a lively comic song written and sung by Takashi with vocal help from Chiyoko and Kanako with typical shimauta-style backing. Chiyoko revisits her roots with a version of the traditional ‘Yonaguni Elegy’ and there are performances of Yaeyama songs from the islands of Kurushima and Hatoma-jima.

Hatoma Family

The one instrumental track is Suzuki’s ‘Akagawara to Sora’ on which Kanako whistles the tune. It ought to be completely out of place here but for some reason it sounds light, breezy and fun. Kanako’s brother Yoshiaki takes over vocal duties for his original song ‘Kaeru Basho’ which is one of the album’s highlights, and Kanako’s vocal and sanshin blend perfectly with Suzuki’s guitar for a lovely version of ‘Tsuki nu Kaisha’. It all ends with a ‘bonus’ live version of the song ‘Bashofu’ recorded at their home venue of the same name.

The album contains nothing startlingly new but is simply an hour in the warm and friendly company of the Hatoma Family. They play the music they know and they do it extremely well while also inviting us to have a listen to one or two oddities and originals. It’s an enjoyable hour and is time very well spent.

Yaninju no Hibiki is released on the Hatoma Family’s own label.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Okinawan Albums

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