Liner Notes


1. (Cycles) America (3'54")
Joseph Gramley: vibraphone and percussion
Kojiro Umezaki: electronics
In some areas of Japan, still today on every evening, the theme from the Largo movement chimes out from loudspeakers at local community centers announcing it's time to go home.
Antonín Dvořák arrives in New York City in 1892, the year "The Death Bed Edition" of Leaves of Grass by one of the city's most iconic citizens, Walt Whitman, is published. In it appears a work titled, "America," of which there exists an Edison gramophone recording of Whitman purportedly reading the work himself. Electronically-enhanced sounds of incoming, crashing and receding waves from the American oceans frame the vibraphone part alongside Whitman's recitation over a retrograde and re-imagined arrangement of one of world's most recognized symphonic works–the Largo movement from Dvořák’s From the New World Symphony, speaking possibly to how the optimism and uniqueness in the America observed and embraced by both Whitman and Dvořák ebbs and flows over time.
Composed in 2009 by Kojiro Umezaki for Joseph Gramley.
Sample: "America" courtesy of The Walt Whitman Archive.
2. 108 (12'06")
Kojiro Umezaki: shakuhachi and manjira
Dong-Won Kim: janggo
Faraz Minooei: santur
A "Silk Road" number associated with the names for each Hindu deity, sins in Tibetan Buddhism, sacred stars in Taoist philosophy, interior angle of a pentagon, poses in Shiva's dance, elements of Angkor architecture, temple bells ringing for the Japanese New Year, Vishnu's temples, hyperfactorial of 3, etc., this recording uses the old shichijyunikou (七十二候) calendar of 72 events grouped into 24 sections and further organized by the 12 months in a year (the sum of which is 108) to structure a comprovisation inspired by the 108 pulses in the opening dan (section) of the 18th century classical work, "Rokudan no Shirabe (六段の調)," by Yatsuhashi Kengyo.
Composed in 2013 by Kojiro Umezaki, after Yatsuhashi Kengyo.
Arranged by Dong-Won Kim, Faraz Minooei, and Kojiro Umezaki.
3. Lullaby from Itsuki (五木の子守唄) (3'08")
Kojiro Umezaki: shakuhachi
From Itsuki Village on the Japanese island of Kyushu, this folk song is said to date back more than a thousand years to the Heian period. The lullaby is familiar to many people in Japan and is the lament of a young nursemaid sent away to be employed by another family, grateful for her new life but unable to hold back thoughts of her own family during the o-bon season when people return to their ancestral homes.
4. "…seasons continue, as if none of this ever happened…" (9'26")
Kojiro Umezaki: shakuhachi and electronics
“It’s strange how the seasons continue, as if none of this ever happened,” Ms. Nagasawa said, glancing up at the blue sky. “Spring comes back, but [some] never will." – from Martin Fackler's April 10, 2011 article in The New York Times on the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster in northeastern Japan.
Nakao Tozan's work, "Kogarashi (木枯)," originally improvised and then subsequently composed in response to the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, serves as the foundation for this new work for shakuhachi and electronics, written in reflection of how opportunities to heighten our sensitivity to the human condition are the possible outcomes from those extraordinary events that remind us of how fragile our environment, manmade systems, and lives can be.
Composed in 2011 by Kojiro Umezaki, after Nakao Tozan.
5. For Zero (5'43")
Joseph Gramley: vibraphone and percussion
Kojiro Umezaki: electronics
What seems most central to this piece is that it follows a process of accumulation and its subsequent reversal. The opening descending dyads followed by a repeating bass line over which the melody eventually enters all feed into an electronically sustained accumulation of sound. Then, a pivot. The process reverses in a slightly different context, each new note subtracting itself from the amassed sonic material until none remains. Alongside working on this piece was reading Charles Seife's captivating Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea in which embracing zero as its own entity and as an equal partner to infinity was among many other intriguing and thought-provoking ideas guiding reflections while developing and writing this work.
Composed in 2010 by Kojiro Umezaki for Joseph Gramley.
6. (Cycles) what falls must rise (alternate version) (12'59")
Kojiro Umezaki: shakuhachi and electronics
Brooklyn Rider: Johnny Gandelsman & Colin Jacobsen - violins, Nicholas Cords - viola, Eric Jacobsen - cello
entangled with
the scattering cherry blossoms–
the wings of birds
Masaoka Shiki
If enlightenment characterizes the sacred musics and their derivations in secular forms at one end of Eurasia, transcendence often does at the other.  Quotations from "Sagariha (下がり葉)"–a principal work in the Nezasa-ha shakuhachi repertoire and often translated as "Falling Leaves"–serves as a vehicle into the descending quadrants of the cycle, while modes and rhythms lying somewhere between the foreign and familiar emerge from depths to shape the ascending counterparts, reaching towards and concluding back again at the top, ready for the inevitable next iteration.
Composed in 2009 by Kojiro Umezaki for Brooklyn Rider.
Originally released on Brooklyn Rider's Dominant Curve, this version starts/ends elsewhere in the cyclical structure of the piece.