2013 album round-up
It’s almost the end of 2013 and time to reflect on favourite Okinawan albums released throughout the year. Among those worthy of special mention was the long-overdue album Umui by Keiko Kinjo. The Okinawan singer has been well-known for her live performances and other recordings and collaborations over many years but this was her first full-length solo album.
The duo Shakari also made an interesting excursion into traditional Okinawan music with their album Onkochishin which also celebrated their 15 years together making music. One of the best-known singers from these islands is Tetsuhiro Daiku and he made Blue Yaima an album produced by highly-regarded Japanese musician Makoto Kubota, while relative newcomer Hajime Nakasone released a good album of traditional songs Uta nu Itu. Suguru Ikeda from Iriomote Island also released another album of his original songs, Sail.
There were two albums that I enjoyed listening to most of all. The first of these was Satoru Shimoji’s Myahk (in fact, released at the end of the previous year) which is an unusual album of sometimes sweeping production which nevertheless is full of Miyako Island spirit. The other album to impress me was Kazutoshi Matsuda’s Nuchi nu Hana on which he at last began to realize the potential he has shown over the years.
There were also two interesting releases of older recordings from the late Rinsho Kadekaru – a live recording Okinawa no Kokoro and a double album from Campus Records, Narufon Zenkyoku. The duo Sakishima Meeting (Yukito Ara and Isamu Shimoji) also released their first full-length compilation, The Best.
Of the non-Okinawan roots albums reviewed here in the Other Music category the outstanding release for me was Old Light: Songs from My Childhood and Other Gone Worlds by North Carolina-based singer and fiddler Rayna Gellert.
Sadly, this year also saw the passing of one of Okinawa’s greatest ever singers and musicians Seijin Noborikawa as well as the premature deaths of Iriomote Island singer Chidori Narai and the American guitarist, ethnomusicologist and Okinawan music collaborator Bob Brozman.
All the albums mentioned above are reviewed on this blog. It just remains to wish everyone a Happy New Year and to hope that there will be lots of good music both inside and outside the Ryukyu Islands in 2014.