Kazutoshi Matsuda: Nuchi Nu Hana
Nuchi Nu Hana is the third album from singer and sanshin player Kazutoshi Matsuda from Chatan, Okinawa. Always a gifted live performer, his new arrangement of ‘Ayagu’ on the second album Uta Michi Aruki was a particular success but occasionally the songs were undermined by rather too slick arrangements. On the new album there is no such problem as he opts for a simple approach with an upfront vocal plus sanshin and the acoustic guitar of Hideki Tanaka. Keyboards, bass, and drums are added only when necessary and some tracks also feature island drums.
The album title Nuchi Nu Hana (Flower of Life) also appears as the song ‘Inochi no Hana’. The song was written by Matsuda for his parents who both passed away some time ago. Matsuda says that his concept for this album was to blend his own original songs with some beautiful living shimauta and also with traditional Okinawan songs which have been handed down through the generations.
A lovely version of ‘Kui nu Hana’ opens the album and then he sings two classic shimauta. The first of these is Yasukatsu Oshima’s ‘Agarikata Bushi’ (from his album with Geoffrey Keezer) and then the Nenes song ‘Katadayui’ from their album Koza Dabasa. Following these are some traditional songs from Okinawa as well as ‘Nakajyafi’ a song from Ie-jima. ‘Sagichidyuya’ – another song also on the Oshima/Keezer collaboration – is recorded with just vocal and sanshin. The slightly sombre mood is lifted with a splash of eisa drumming on ‘Chunjyunnagari’ and there’s another original song ‘Nanachi Bushi’ co-written with Bisekatsu. The ten songs are followed by two bonus tracks which are alternative versions of two songs from the album.
It’s good to see that Kazutoshi Matsuda has finally made an album worthy of his undoubted talent. His singing is heartfelt, strong and clear and Nuchi Nu Hana is his best album to date. He will be touring mainland Japan in October to promote the album and he plays in Osaka (3rd), Nagoya (4th), Kamakura (5th), Tokyo (8th), and Sapporo (10th) before returning to Okinawa to play a final date in his hometown Chatan at Mod’s (18th).
Nuchi Nu Hana is out now on Campus Records (TUNE-13).