Hajime Nakasone: Ten

Hajime Nakasone’s new album Ten is his first for four years. The singer and sanshin player from Okinawa made his earliest recordings when he was only 12 and still has such youthful looks that it’s hard to believe he’s already 28. Not so with his voice. Nakasone’s mentor for many years was the late Seijin Noborikawa and he still retains the remnants of a singing style modelled on Seigwa’s which makes him sound like a much older man.

On the new album his purpose was to choose and present some old songs in order to show the roots or essence of his music and alongside these he includes nine original songs that he has written or co-written. There are some accompanying musicians on a few of the recordings but mostly it’s kept very simple with just the vocals and sanshin as the main focus.


The aim to acknowledge his roots begins with the opening track ‘Tunbaru Nakuni~Yaka nu Hama’. Later on there is also another version of ‘Nakuni’, this time played as a duet with his grandfather Seikou Nakasone who also appeared on the previous album. This second version is one of four ‘special tracks’ at the end, making in all a lengthy 70 minute running time with 16 tracks.

One of the originals is ‘Kuishi Nmarijima’ sung here by Nakasone’s own pupil Hiroki Itokazu from Kudaka Island. When Nakasone sang it in 2015 it won the annual Miuta Taisho award for new songs. Another standout among the newer songs is ‘Ichihata nu Kui’ co-written by Nakasone and performed as a duet with young singer Narise Arakaki.

The four special or bonus tracks include a live recording of ‘Yomitan Uta Ashibi’. Perhaps the most intriguing song comes right at the end. This is ‘Kahakai Chijuya’ a Nakasone composition inspired by the story of immigrants from Okinawa who went to Hawaii in 1899. On this successful Hawaiian and Okinawan mix he plays the sanlele: a hybrid of sanshin and ukulele. Apart from this there are no big surprises just a solid album with a mix of old and new from an accomplished performer.

Ten is released by 2Fee Records.


Explore posts in the same categories: Okinawan Albums

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