Koto Jazz 57: Song Stories- Haystack Horse Trot

The Haystack Horse Trot was written in November of this year (2014) and inspired by childhood memories of horse back riding on the Cannon Beach, Oregon coast to and from Haystack Rock. Horse back riders today are often seen riding along the shore toward Haystack Rock, racing waves rolling in. Haystack Rock is recognized by the Guiness Book of World Records as the third largest single rock structure in the world. The second largest lies just a few hours away by car along the Columbia River east of Portland, and Ayres Rock in the Australian outback is the largest.

Growing up in Colorado also gave ample opportunity to ride horses in the mountains and valleys of the Rocky Mountains. I learned a horse is a friend, a pet, a means of transportation, a guide, job work mate, and a teacher, all rolled into one.

Unlike other tunes I wrote where there is a free form flowing and at times undulating motion, this song takes on a more consistent, western style rhythm.

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Koto Jazz 56: Song Stories – Mount Index Ice Caves

This new age musical tune was inspired by a hike with my friend Kim. We climbed to the ice caves at the summit of Mount Index off highway 2 just northeast of Seattle.

The Mount Index ice caves were leaking typical eerie, echoing sounding drops of water melting off blue ice, which increasingly gathered and coalesced into more and more tributaries of water racing toward the opening of the ice caves. It is the beginning of the water cycle, passing beyond alpine lakes and converging with glacial streams and eventually, rivers racing toward the Pacific ocean.

It’s one of my fun trance-like tunes of quirky frivolity reminding of the simple world we live in and the majesty of the basic elements that give us life.

KotoJazz 55: Song Stories – Kozan No Kaze (Alpine Winds)

My Alpine Winds (Storm) piece has an interesting origin. Much of my years growing up in Colorado were spent in the Rocky Mountains and its hard coming away with anything short of awe at the power of Nature.

Though written in the summer of 2014, Kozan no Kaze (Alpine Wind (storm)) was inspired by a camping trip I took with my childhood friend Rex off the Peak-to-peak highway just west of Boulder Colorado. Our plan was to hike in at timber line and wake up to a glorious view of snow-capped mountains and a winter wonderland. The camping trip/ hike up was magical with tranquil lakes and flowing springs from snow laden summits.

A winter wonderland we got. As we were hiking in we were literally stopped by a blinding wind storm. Nevertheless, the trip was stopped short by an abrupt blinding wind and snow storm, which forced back to “civilization”. Since we could only see a few feet ahead, we decided to try to stake down the tent and call it a night. That didn’t happen either, as the wind blew over our tent and rolled us around inside the tent, and so we succumbed to the power of the wind storm and headed back to the trail head.

The Alpine Wind tunes came out of this glorious experience.

Kozan no Kaze (Alpine Wind (storm))

KotoJazz 54: Song Stories – Kubota Birds Rain Dance

Kubota Gardens sits on 20+ acres of Seattle City Park space in South Seattle, and has a range of walking, light hiking trails, including Japanese gardens landscape designed by Tom Kubota and family. (See Kubota Gardens history.)

Of the dozens of Japanese gardens all over the Asia Pacific and the U.S. that I’ve seen, Kubota Gardens is among the most nicely diverse Japanese gardens in the world, featuring traditional tea garden designs, bonsai pine pavilion, and even a Zen garden. While it’s intended to support a large volume of visitors it distinctly features both natural water springs and gorgeous waterfalls cascading into numerous ponds and inlets.

Though written just a week ago, my Kubota Water Dance tunes (to be recorded shortly) was inspired in this special space during the early spring season of 2014 underneath a lace Japanese maple with exposed leaf-free, winding, twisting green moss- clothed branches. Chickadees were frivolously doing a water dance — chirping and dancing under the maple tree on a drizzly cool day, and occasionally stopping for a droplet on the green moss or branches.

Koto Jazz 53: Song Stories – Hatchidori (Hummingbird) Story

This energetic Koto jazz piece I wrote this summer (2014) is reflective of the spring season mating patterns of the hummingbird. To attract its mate, the male hummingbird scales up and down the keys of the sky as a kind of mating dance to attract the attention of female hummingbirds. I observed this odd mating dance at Discovery Park in Seattle during a hike in the summer of 2014.

This melody also reflects the playful dance tunes of hummingbirds flying from flower to flower, which is the translated name of the song Hatchidori Wa Hana Kara Hana E Tobu. Purchase preview is available on Amazon music at Hatchidori Amazon.

KotoJazz 52: Song Stories – Shiyodamari to Nami (Tide Pools & Waves)

In my last performance at the Royal Room November 30th, I told the stories about how each of the Koto jazz songs I played came to be. The following I hope serve as a glimpse into the koto jazz process as I reflect on a particular part of the natural world and seek to bring out its natural majesty and beauty in a musical tune. Tide Pools l & The Wind, for example, I wrote a few weeks ago.

Shiyodamari To Nami (Tide Pools & Waves) – This smooth jazz song was inspired by viewing tide pools on the Oregon and Washington coasts, feeling the motions of wind dashing upon tide pools and waves; their undulating patterns; their graceful dance on sandy shores. When we leave our world whatever it is and enter the world of the majestic wind, we see that the Wind breathes the Spirit of life onto our world and we can be left with nothing but awe and inspiration.