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Hanz Araki 30 March 2008

Hanz Araki

Flute/Whistle/Shakuhachi player/singer of Celtic and Japanese music

Irish flute player Hanz Araki is the quintessential world music musician. He has performed around the world with the Juno Award-winning Paperboys, The Bridies, Casey Neill and an all-star tribute to The Pogues called “K.M.R.I.A.” He has played with the Seattle Symphony, the University of Washington Wind Ensemble and is featured on more than a dozen recordings and soundtracks, from feature films and documentaries to popular video games.

While his love is Irish music, his deep roots are in the shakuhachi, the traditional bamboo “Zen flute” of Japan. Hanz (short for Hanzaburo) is the world’s only sixth generation shakuhachi player, following in the footsteps of his father, Kinko Ryu Grand Master Kodo Araki V. With no prior musical training, Hanz took up the shakuhachi at age 17. Under his father’s tutelage, four months later he made his concert debut in Shimoneski, Japan.He went on to teach shakuhachi at Keio University for two years before moving back to his hometown of Seattle in 1991.

There, his American mother’s Gaelic roots came into play, and he began teaching himself Irish and Scottish tunes on the flute and whistle, inspired by the many excellent pipers and fiddlers in Seattle.

His ability on the flute and his uncanny command of traditional songs with his voice quickly made him a fixture of the Irish music scene in America.

In 2004, Hanz released a solo album of traditional Scottish and Irish music with a fresh new slant, “Six of One, Five of the Other.” It has been favorably received by fans and Irish music aficionados and earned him liveireland.com’s Best Newcomer of the Year and KLCC’s “Best Music of 2004″ list. His newest release, “Little Fires” is a bold mix of traditional Celtic and modern music.

Hanz now lives in SW Portland.

What are you up to?

Playing and recording music, traveling and doing all the miserable, horrid, soul-destroying grunt-work that goes along with making those things happen.

What are you into?

Music (mostly playing/learning — I tend to like quiet in my home life), movies (watching — although lately I’ve been scoring for documentary films and really enjoying it), and eating delicious sandwiches.

What do you like most about Portland?

The music scene here is incredible. But what do I like most? People actually do things here (like you say, “Let’s go grab lunch sometime,” and they say, “Sure!” And then it actually happens). Also, the aforementioned delicious sandwiches. Well, the food in general. And the slightly more progressive politics.

Six generations of classical Japanese shakuhachi music lead to…traditional Irish music?

It’s not as far a leap as you might think. Traditional songs and tunes all share some commonality which is what I love about them. It just so happened I was wired to those two regions. It may just as easily been India and Peru, as Ireland and Japan.

You mention sandwiches prominently. What are your top-5 Portland sandwiches?

1) Side Door — The Stark Dip
2) Russell St. Barbecue — Pulled Pork Sandwich
3) Bar Carlo — The Fried Egg Sandwich
4) The Original Hotcake and Steakhouse — BLT (with a fried egg)
5) Hoda’s — Beef Shawarma

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