Roots Round-up 2022

As we near the end of the year it’s time for another round-up of roots music to come my way in 2022.

There were several interesting and varied Okinawan albums that I listened to, and these included the youthful, experimental Okinawa Electric Girl Saya with her album Doomsday. At the other end of the age spectrum there was Uchina Jazz Goes On by the revitalised veteran musicians of Uchina Jazz All Stars.

But my favourite album came early in the year. This was Tenmikachi Donmikachi Hiyamikachi by Keiko Higa. It was good to see Higa in the studio again surrounded by so much Ryukyu talent. The musicians included the ever-popular Shuken Maekawa who composed the title song, and Miyako’s Tadayuki Matsubara whose debut album was one of my picks last year. What confirmed this as my number one was seeing Higa and her ensemble cast of musicians in a superb concert in Koza to promote the album release.

Another to lend Higa a helping hand was Seishin Taba whose own double album retrospective Shiawase Retto is my second favourite this year. 32 tracks from all stages of Taba’s long career provide the perfect introduction to his work and there’s also one newly recorded song.

My third choice is Toru Yonaha’s Roots~Ryuraku Keisho. Yonaha is no longer the bright young spark I first saw at the Ryukyu Festival in Osaka years ago but is a long-established artist now who often takes a back seat in the support and promotion of others. Here he is centre stage with a completely solo album.

Above: Amy Lou and Lisa Maria of Mama’s Broke (Photo: Blanca Chavez)

The roots albums from ‘out there’ included a 16 track 30-year celebration from Kate Rusby and the impossible to categorise Sweet Tooth from Wabanaki bassist Mali Obomsawin. However, it was the heartfelt singing and playing of East Canadian duo Mama’s Broke on their Narrow Line release that gets my vote.

You can find reviews of all these albums on the Power of Okinawa blog.  

Explore posts in the same categories: Notes from the Ryukyus

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