Ralph Samuelson’s “The Universal Flute” is a compilation of non-flute songs played by people who are not Ralph Samuelson. From the very start, this album requires some context.
First, Ralph Samuelson, as the CD insert says, is a former flautist who, a few decades ago on a trip to Japan, converted to using the shakuhachi, a sort of flute made of bamboo, although it might be closer to a recorder in terms of its design and how it’s played. The insert continues to say that Ralph Samuelson suffered an injury that damaged the nerves in his hands in the 1990s, which prevented him from playing the shakuhachi, although he still teaches the instrument. Therefore, this CD has Samuelson in more of the curator role, recording the tracks of other talented players.
The subtitle for this album is “Discovery in a Single Tone,” and this subtitle is largely accurate, because much of the music on this album is a single instrument playing a single note. Make no mistake: this isn’t party music. If anything, this is music you might find in the background of a documentary set in Japan. That said, much of the music is very relaxing, and if you haven’t heard much of this instrument, you might want to give it a try.
Recommended If You Like: no comparison
Recommended Tracks: Afterimage, Three Songs of Shide
Do Not Play: none
Written by Alex McWhirt on 09/22/2016