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World Music CD Reviews Asia & Far East

RILEY LEE

By JILL ETTINGER
Published May 5, 2006

Music For Zen Meditation
Narada

RILEY LEE & SATSUKI ODAMURA
Picture Dreams
NWCD

Lately it seems all things Zen have become passé. Fortunately, there are artists—or rather Grand Masters—like Riley Lee to reeducate the public on the philosophy’s fundamental meaning. Music For Zen Meditation, a double-disc of Japanese flute solos and duets, is literally a breath of Zen air. The shakuhachi flute, simply designed (a piece of bamboo with five finger holes, no reed, no keys), originated as a tool for meditation rather than an instrument. Lee is flawless in illuminating the complex depth and range of the hollow-sounding shakuhachi. The tracks flow with uninterrupted tranquility, and with titles like “Stillpoint” and “Merging With The Infinite,” dare we expect less? Add Satsuki Odamura, premier koto player (Japanese string instrument comparable to harp or dulcimer), for a collaborative journey with Lee on Picture Dreams. Not a trip to Zen, but perhaps 17th Century Japan, nonetheless an enticing destination deserving of a visit. But treat yourself to several.