MKR Project in Naha

Last Friday the Okinawa-based trio MKR Project gave a live show at Sound M’s in Naha. The trio comprise singer and sanshin player Mutsumi Aragaki, bassist Ken Sakamoto and drummer Rob Goodman. They have yet to make an album but Mutsumi Aragaki was featured with two tracks on the Music from Okinawa CD which was presented last year to delegates at the WOMEX event in Budapest.

This was a fine performance in front of a small but appreciative audience. One hesitates to use the word ‘fusion’ which is an overused and rather maligned term nowadays but this really does describe what they do as they fuse together elements of Okinawan traditional music with original songs, jazz, funk, African and more. This could result in a bit of a mess but what they came up with on Friday evening was thoroughly enjoyable and at times groundbreaking.

MKR Project at Sound M's

MKR Project at Sound M’s

The main focus of the trio is Aragaki who has a strong voice and is an adaptable and imaginative sanshin player. Her own song ‘Spinnin’ Around’ was one of the highlights and she seems equally at home singing in Japanese or English often in the same song. Sakamoto and Goodman are also accomplished musicians and their different musical interests and backgrounds are all given space within this framework.

The versions of some old Okinawan songs were equally compelling. Their take on ‘Kagiyadefu’ completely reworks this standard piece and even features a rap by Goodman. Not everything works as well and sometimes they are a bit rough around the edges. But this is still very much a work in progress and it will be fascinating to see where it goes. MKR Project are establishing themselves on the Okinawan music scene and there isn’t anyone else doing quite what they do.



Explore posts in the same categories: Live in Okinawa

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