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I am posting a review of the Kaoru Kakizakai concert/underground restaurant + special guests. This my first time attending one of the underground restaurant series put on by Philip Gelb, and I have got to say it was a truly wonderful experience. It is a very relaxed and intimate setting(about 20 people) and a perfect space for hearing a solo performance as everyone is totally attentive to each and every note. Truly a listener and performer's dream come true. Not to mention the delicious Vegan, Japanese inspired creations in the culinary realm by Philip.
Philip announced that it has been one year since he started doing these concerts and that this evening would be very special as there was a visiting shakuhachi player from Kyoto, Kurahashi Yoshio, and also his two kitchen helpers, both accomplished musicians, would be performing as well.
The dinner started with a refreshing cold cucumber kiwi miso soup and then a short performance by John Ingle. John seamlessly wove Tibetan multiphonic throat singing into a wonderful, dynamic alto sax improvisation with abundant use of overtones and harmonics. It was very beautiful.
Next, the appetizer of quinoa pilaf with an arugula/tomato salad and cilantro lime dressing was served. The following performance was by Pipa extraordinaire Jie Ma and our gracious host Philip Gelb, who commented that this was the first night that he was breaking his own promise to never play at these events, but it was the year anniversary and all... so why not. We were glad he did! They played a wonderful piece by Bartok entitled "Bankdos" (sorrow) which was originally written for 2 violins. It was an excellent arrangement and performance. Did I mention that Pipa and Shakuhachi sound REALLY great together!
The main course was one of Philip's specialties, pecan crusted tempeh (homemade) with spiced apricot sauce, roasted baby leeks, asparagus and baby onions. Then on to the main performance...
Kaoru Kakizakai played a variety of honkyoku and a modern piece by Fukuda Rando. The pieces he played are as follows:
Tabibito no Uta - Rando Fukuda (1.8)
Shika no Tone with Yoshio Kurahashi (1.8)
Each piece was so distinct from the other. Both Koku and Shingetsu were wonderfully calm and sublime. Yamagoe was extremely hard hitting and forceful. Kakizakai explained that his teacher Yokoyama had two very different teachers, one being Watazumidoso who was extremely serious, forceful, tight, etc. and Rando Fukuda who was basically the opposite being more expressive of lighter moods and feelings. This explanation led into the modern piece "Tabibito no Uta" by Rando Fukuda. It was very apparent how different this piece was from the previous piece, Yamagoe, in both musical mode and mood. Kakizakai's explanations between songs were very informative and actually quite humorous at times. Then came the KICKER....
.....The duet of Kakizakai and Kurahashi, Shika no Tone. First off I have to say that I really have never been a huge fan of this piece, but that changed this evening. Kakizakai started playing the initial phrases and then you heard an echo of these phrases coming from another room. This eventually led to the two performers playing in the same room opposite each other. It was truly an inspiring and dynamic performance! Philip commented to me that he felt that this Shika no Tone was truly the finest duet of this piece that he has had the fortune to hear; I would definitely agree. Because of the intimacy of the space, it created a wonderful stereo effect between the two performers and not to mention I was sitting at the bell of Kurahashi's shakuhachi (literally!). It was truly inspiring!
The concert ended with a lively San'an and we proceeded to plum tarts w/ peach ice cream and raspherry sauce. OH YEAH!
Special thanks to you Philip for putting on these events!
That just sounds amazing. All of you who live in places where that kind of thing goes down... I hope you realize how lucky you are.
Where I live, the typical evening soirée would likely involve burgers & fries, Jimmy Buffett's "Margaritaville," and a fistfight between drunken tattooed bikers. Okay, it's not that bad, but you guys are stylin'.
Thank you for your great review. What a great surprise to have had Kurahashi sensei there. Good food, great company, and great music - what more could one ask for in one evening.
I have heard Shika no tone played this very same way, when Kurahashi sensei and David Duncavage at the St. John the Evangelist monastery in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The chapel at this monastery is an absolute experience, this combined with two great masters interacting with each other in such a way.
Thank you for the glowing review, Prem!!
This was a truly exceptional evening and my favorite of the 15 events on the series, so far! It is a small space, 20 paying guests, the musician, myself and my 2 assistants.
Was a wonderful audience, last night. Everyone seemed so focus on every note and every flavor.
Often my assistants are exceptional dancers, artists and musicians but this was the first time i also had them multi-tasking. I thought it would add some variety having John's solo and Jie and my duet in different times in the evening. Will use this as a model for some sporadic events coming up.
couple of small corrections on the menu.
the green with the quinoa was mizuno instead of arugula. I did say i was going to use arugula but when i came across super fresh, organic mizuno that morning, i changed my mind.
Unfortunately no leeks showed up on the entree plate as i could not find any quality ones that morning.
Kaoru's performance was beautiful! His warm, friendly, open personality comes through his sound. His solo playing is highly virtuosic and very expressive. Quite an honor and a true joy to have him perform in my kitchen!! And the duet with Yoshio Kurahashi...words cant do justice.
Continuing on with this house concert/dinner series in coming months with Sinan Erdemsel (oud, Istanbul), Shoko Hikage (koto, San Francisco), Pauline Oliveros (new york), Jane Rigler (flute, new york), Vinny Golia (winds, Los Angelos). And more than likely another great shakuhachi player in the fall. World class musicians paired with hand crafted, organic, vegan cuisine. Fun stuff!
Thank you Prem and also to others who look at this forum who were in attendance: Karl Young (who was the one who called me up and asked me about putting together a concert for Kaoru san on a few weeks notice), Rich, Ted, Sharon
And thank you to the 2 spectacular shakuhachi players who graced our presence!
I wish I was there.
It wouldn't be a bad idea to video tape the shows;-)
Undeniably a fantastic evening, but I thought it was supposed to be underground.
Sounds amazing! Great sounds and food, enough to make you live a couple of years longer!
I wish I had been there! (we all need those extra years!)