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HANZ ARAKI - Foreign Shore

HANZ ARAKI - Foreign Shore
Little Sea Records

Hanz Araki is a mean flute player from Seattle, now living in Portland, Oregon. He is the sixth generation of his family to be a grand master of the shakuhachi (a Japanese flute) and although he honed his musical abilities in this genre, it is in the musical traditions of his Irish mother that Hanz has carved a career. Following hot on the heels of a series of releases with singer and fiddler Kathryn Claire, Foreign Shore sees Hanz taking the lead on a selection of songs and tune sets, mainly from the Irish tradition.

The tunes here are mostly familiar Irish session fare and are played expertly by Hanz and his chosen accompanists - Cary Novotny on guitar provides a solid, steady backing for Hanz’s warm, flowing flute and deserves much credit for the overall sound.

Hanz has that enviable talent of being able to pick great songs that suit his voice well. He has learned them from reliable sources such as Martin Carthy and Frank Harte and gleaned a few from his contemporaries as well. The sleeve notes show he has researched different versions and chosen those that make sense to him. In particular, Hanz has a skill for running songs and tunes together in seamless arrangements giving a well-rounded and well thought through feel to the album. The Herring Song flows nicely into The Boats Of Killaloe and a Quebecois-style Crockery Ware (complete with podorythmie) blends well with The Sligo Reel. There is a good version of Davey Lowston and an achingly beautiful rendition of Jolly Roving Tar, the arrangements of both being simple and clean, with beautiful harmony vocals from Colleen Raney.

This is a well produced and engaging album from an excellent musician who knows exactly what he is doing. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Fiona Heywood

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This album was reviewed in Issue 105 of The Living Tradition magazine.