The shakuhachi has had a troubled existence. In its native Japan, its use has been outlawed and the ability to play it has been used as a way for a traveler to prove he was a visiting monk and not a spy. In more recent times, it has been adapted into the ethnic consciousness of jazz, but with some exceptions (notably Ned Rothenberg) it has been used in the hackneyed ritual-before-the-jam mode.
Whether or not it's time for a shakuhachi repertory band is arguable, but either way Violent Femmes bassist Brian Ritchie seems an unlikely candidate to lead the venture. ...read more