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March 21, 2011

Gideon Freudmann & Ronnie Nyogetsu Seldin - Sound of Distant Deer

Some more shaking shakuhachi brilliance here. This time the coldness of the flute is met by the warmth of a cello, albeit a cello that commonly masquerades as a flute. There is so little I can say about this album. It is incredible. You will never hear cello played like this any other time. There are no words for this music.

Ronnie Nyogetsu Reishin Seldin studied Shakuhachi in Kyoto, Japan with Kurahashi Yodo Sensei, who was a disciple of Jin Nyodo. There in 1975, he received the name Nyogetsu and a teaching certificate at the level of Jun Shihan in the Kinko school of shakuhachi.

After his return to New York, Nyogetsu was awarded the rank of Shi-han (Master) in 1978, as a result of his efforts to spread the teaching of this instrument in America.

In 1980, he received his Dai-Shihan, or Grand Master's license. In April 2001, Nyogetsu received a Koku-An Dai-Shihan (Grand Master's license at the level of Kyu-Dan, or 9th level) from Japan's Living National Treasure in shakuhachi, Aoki Reibo. He was also given the name Reishin (Heart/Mind of the Bell) to go along with it. Nyogetsu is the first non-Japanese to receive this high award.

Nyogetsu has performed in numerous concerts, lectures and demonstrations in the metropolitan area and around the United States as well as Canada, Mexico, Scotland, and Argentina. Not only has he toured Japan many times, he has also been interviewed on radio and television both here and in Japan, and has performed on the soundtracks of several documentary films including the Academy Award nominated documentary "A Family Gathering" (1989) for which he also co-composed the sound track. Nyogetsu's playing also appears on the GRAMMY-nominated "The Planet Sleeps" (SONY).

Ronnie Nyogetsu has released several recordings of shakuhachi music including cassettes, LPs and CDs. Mr. Seldin is the founder of Ki-sui-an shakuhachi dojo with branches in Manhattan, Rochester/Syracuse, Philadelphia, and Baltimore/Wash.D.C. In addition to teaching privately, Mr. Seldin is also part of the Japanese Music Program at the graduate Center of the City University of New York where he gives lectures on and demonstrations of the shakuhachi. He is also on faculty at New York University (NYU). His shakuhachi school - KiSuiAn Shakuhachi Dojo - has been the largest and most active in the World outside of Japan for the past three decades. 

"I never knew anyone could play so many instruments on the cello!"

Gideon Freudmann, a cello innovator, has created his own style of music called CelloBop - a fusion of blues, jazz, folk and much more. He has performed at The Montreal International Jazz Festival, The Prague Swing Jazz Festival and throughout the US. His music is also frequently heard on NPR's All Things Considered and on the TV show, Weeds. His creative workshops at schools, colleges and music camps, as well as his tunebook, New Music For Cello has inspired cello and violin students and teachers from coast to coast to perform his music by their own cello choirs and string ensembles. Gideon's original composed music has been commissioned for film, theatre and dance. His recent project has been performing live soundtracks for classic silent films. Gideon has 12 original CDs to his credit and has performed on dozens of albums by other musicians.

A classical musician by training, Freudmann earned a Fine Arts degree in Cello Performance from the University of Connecticut. Since that time, Freudmann has distinguished himself as one of the finest solo cross-genre cellists, performing in literally hundreds of venues throughout the United States, including a featured performance at the New Directions Cello Festival in New York. His solo CDs featuring exclusively original songs and lyrics have received international distribution, extensive national and international airplay and glowing critical reviews.

Freudmann has held several artistic residencies including the University of Connecticut, James Madison University, Ithaca Violoncello Institute and others, and has performed in dozens of colleges and universities in the country. Freudmann has been featured as a guest musician on an eclectic array of folk and rock CDs, and his innovative sounds have been commissioned for video, film and dance soundtracks. Among his non-classical influences, Freudmann cites the Kronos Quartet, Turtle Island String Quartet, Penguin Cafe Orchestra, Leo Kottke, Mose Allison, and The Beatles.

Gideon Freudmann & Ronnie Nyogetsu Seldin - Sound of Distant Deer

Label: (Gadfly 506)
Year: 1998

" This CD is a collection of songs combining shakuhachi and cello, in solos and duets, both traditional and modern. Nyogetsu plays shakuhachi with cellist Gideon Freudmann. There are four pieces composed for this CD using duets of these two instruments. There are also 3 improvisations between the two performers that they call "Cellohachi"."

"Sound of Distant Deer," the first ever cello-shakuhachi duet CD ever released, features traditional and original music performed by two masters of their respective instruments.

Gideon Freudmann, recognized as one of the most unique and original cellists in the country, teams up with Ronnie Nyogetsu Seldin, the leading shakuhachi (the japanese flute) instructor in the U.S., for this one-of-a-kind album. Sounding at times meditative, reflective, bizarre, and odd, this first-ever musical combination has yielded a result that is, quite simply, greater than the sum of its parts.

The music on "Sound of Distant Deer" includes two ancient Japanese pieces, contemporary works written for these two instruments (though never recorded), and music specifically written and improvised for the album by Freudmann and Seldin.

Gideon Freudmann, with three previous CDs (Banking Left, Cellobotomy, and Adobe Dog House), has long been recognized for pushing the envelope with his unique use of the cello. In addition, his odd and quirky songwriting has made him a staple of the up-and-coming singer/songwriter circuit.

Ronnie Nyogetsu Seldin -- the foremost shakuhachi instructor in the U.S. -- first learned and studied the Japanese flute with his Japanese Grand Master instructor from 1973 to 1980. In addition to teaching students and giving concerts around the world, he runs the largest shakuhachi dojo in the world outside of Japan.


1 Shika no Tone (Kinko Ryu) 鹿の遠音 10'50
This is perhaps the most famous of all the Honkyoku (Zen Buddhist original music for Shakuhachi). The time is Autumn, it is the mating season, and from two different mountain tops in the ancient city of Nara, a male and female deer are calling to each other.

2 Slippery Lettuce 04'46

During the recording session, when we took a dinner break, Ronnie attempted to pour some dressing on his salad. The dressing slid off a big leaf of lettuce and onto the table He said, "that's some slippery lettuce," which inspired Gideon to create this funky, bluesy morsel of aural ruffage.

3 Psalm of the Phoenix 10'52
Composed by Edward Smaldone I.

The indomitable spirit of the Phoenix is portrayed in a wide-ranging series of scenes that are alternately dramatic, prayerful, ecstatic, bluesy, and Zen influenced. Edward Smaidone (b f956) received the 1993 Goddard Lieberson Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He is an Assistant Professor at the Aaron Copeland School of Music at Queens College, CUNY.

4 Cellohachi - Part 1 04'04
Gideon and Ronnie intended to play an improvisational number together from the outset. They recorded three short pieces and decided to keep them all as a suite. See if you can hear the nod to the tune "Summertime."

5 Cellohachi - Part 2 03'35

6 Cellohachi - Part 3 02'04

7 Ajikan (Itchoken) 阿字観 06'51
This honkyoku is supposed to represent the Zen concept of "seeing with the heart”. It is about "seeing the original sound", a special sort of vision that is associated with enlightenment.

8 Scivias 07'25
This melody draws on a chant by the 12th century mystic, Hildegard of Bingen, and borrows its title from her "Book of Mysteries". Jeffrey Lependorf (b 1962), best known as a composer of operas, is also a master of the shakuhachi and has composed extensively for the instrument.

9 Lost Together 07'03
Composed by new music composer Murray Hidary of New York City.

the pigeons alight under brooklyn bridge. or alternate link
mp3 >256kbps vbr

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