In 1983, Nobuko Miyamoto gave me my first opportunity to produce a full album in Los Angeles. This vinyl recording still holds up well today, and we are preparing to digitize the recording and release it as a CD. It was sonically recorded to perfection by my dear brother, Craig Burbidge. It was also the beginning of an artistic relationship with Nobuko that just celebrated its 40th year.
This is the second album from Nobuko that we produced at our newly built, Bindu Studio, in Santa Monica. The songs explored subjects close to her, and once again, we brought in artist from our community to guest on different songs such as June Kuramoto, Danny Yamamoto, Jess Acuna, Johnny Mori, Frances Awe on Talking Drum. Of special note is a prayer offered by Duncan Pain in his native Lakota language. He chants in the title track, "To All Relations." and it was one of the most powerful moments in the creation of this album.
I have often shared with June Kuramoto my feeling that we were musical soul mates, kindred spirits. When I played with her, I could feel her breath, her inner rhythm, and the power in the beautiful sounds she produced playing the koto. I always wanted to hear her sound more "present" and enlisted the artistry of mixer, Ryan Freeland, to bring this album home. He did not disappoint. June as so many beautiful recordings done with different engineers with her band, Hiroshima. This recording offers a different perspective of her extraordinary talent.
A special collaboration with Yoko Fujimoto, singer and percussionist from renowned Taiko Ensemble, Kodo. I remember flying in from Jamaica a day before our recording, knowing that it was one of the rare times Yoko was to be in Los Angeles. We recorded all of her vocals the following day, a cappella. I then built the arrangements around the organic live performances we recorded. There is something magical in this record because of her feel and love of the songs she had carefully selected.
I wrote a story about the making of this album in my Arts and Activism Section. Without hesitation, the production and recording of this music is one of the most important works I have taken on. The premise of how this concert came to be supporting an idea by HH The 14th Dalai Lama, all of the artists who answered the call and hundreds of workers who selflessly contributed to a cause much larger than themselves. It was humbling and gratifying. I sincerely believe this is a record that the City of Los Angeles should be proud of. What was accomplished here under the leadership of Judy Mitoma, was unprecedented.
Kenny Endo was one of the first Taiko Masters I had the good fortune of meeting. Having worked with him in many different musical settings, I was always intrigued by the subtle sound he got from the drums quietly. We are so used to hearing them played thunderously! I wanted to do a "quiet" taiko recording which he was very open to exploring. Kenny is a true master, dedicated to his craft with so much heart. It was a pleasure creating this music together.
Waldemar Bastos gifted me one of the most memorable and extraordinary experiences of my life. His voice was so expressive, he could color the lyrics he sung from a delicate pianissimo to a thunderous forte where the rafters in my studio shook. The music speaks for itself, and there were many moments that passed in the making of this record that I had to ask myself, "why me?" The stories that accompanied not only the making of this record, but performing with him in Lisbon with the Gulbenkian Orchestra and in his home country, Angola, demostrated the weight of responsibility he felt as an artist. He sung these songs for his people, the common folks, and for his love of Angola. He had a distaste for politics, a deep mistrust of folks in government positions and a love for the freedom he experienced living in Los Angeles. The smile I saw many times on his face, seldom showed in Lisbon or Luanda. It was different. It was a privilege to know him, and a blessing to make this record with him.