Kunisada 19thC Woodblock Print

 

 

Endorsements
of
Tai Hei Shakuhachi
from
Teachers, Professional Musicians & Recording Artists


 

"I have known and worked with Monty Levenson and his wife Kayo for 25 years. Recently, they came to visit me in Japan for the first time in many years. Monty made a gift to me of a shakuhachi (1.8') that he had worked on for a long time, and it is truly an excellent instrument.

I play all kinds of shakuhachi music, from classical honkyoku to Kinko-ryu, minyo (folk), and new music. I also know about 25 professional shakuhachi makers here in Japan, who make Kinko-ryu, Tozan-ryu, Fuke-Meian-ryu, Watazumi-do, Ueda, or minyo flutes. The problem with the flutes made by these makers is that they are only suited for playing songs in their particular style. Top players in Japan, too, can only play songs in their style, because if they attempt to learn other styles they will often be banished by their teachers. I have been fortunate enough to learn from teachers of many styles. The flute that I received from Monty was perfectly suited to any technique in any of the shakuhachi styles, making it an extremely rare instrument. Excellent shakuhachi can excel when playing either soft or loud, meri or kari, and Monty’s shakuhachi was such a one. Thank you Monty!

Yoshinobu Taniguchi
One of the foremost living masters of shakuhachi in Japan today. In addition to having studied under three great pillars of shakuhachi - Aoki Reibo, Yamaguchi Goro and Yokoyama Katsuya - he has also mastered the playing styles and repertoire of many other shakuhachi sects. Taniguchi-sensei is a recipient of the transmission of Koden Honkyoku through Watazumido Shuso and Yokoyama Katsuya. He has received several honors for his work in Japan including acknowledgement as top performer at the Osaka Geijutsu Sai. He was also given the honorary title of Sen Shin Kutsu Dai Shihan at the young age of 32, a title usually reserved for senior "ambassadors" of shakuhachi.


"I have known Monty Levenson for more than 40 years. He has created a unique method for making shakuhachi flutes using the traditional material of bamboo. I recommend his instruments without hesitation - especially to beginners - as one of the best shakuhachi available."

Masayuki Koga
Founder and President, The Japanese Music Institute of America. Shakuhachi Teacher, Composer & Recording Artist.


"No matter who the maker or what the price, it is not appropriate to recommend a shakuhachi without playing on it. I can, however, say this: Monty Levenson has progressed from being a very fine craftsman of 'home-made California shakuhachi' to becoming an instrument maker whose flutes are up to the high standards of the best shakuhachi made anywhere!"

John Kaizan Neptune
Shakuhachi Maker, Composer & Recording Artist.

 


"I want to thank you for the very fine flutes which you have sent me during the past year. One of the biggest problems we face in introducing the shakuhachi to American students is the high cost of traditional instruments and the difficulty of ordering instruments from Japan. The consistent quality of your flutes and their reasonable price constitute a big breakthrough that now makes it much easier for shakuhachi enthusiasts in the United States to work with bamboo instruments and thereby gain an appreciation of a very special and unique music tradition. I, for one, certainly value the important contribution you are making!"

Ralph Samuelson
Shakuhachi Teacher trained in the classical tradition of the Kinko Ryu under Goro Yamaguchi, Kodo Araki V & Shudo Yamato. Lecturer & Recording Artist.

 


"I would like to address this to all those in America who have interest in shakuhachi. I am a maker of shakuhachi flutes in Japan using traditional methods and involved in this craft for over 25 years. When I played the instruments made by Monty Levenson for the first time, the surprise and shock I experienced are indescribable. The shakuhachi he makes are truly wonderful. Their tone color, balance of sound and overall quality are excellent. If this level instrument were made using the traditional methods, it would require a tremendous amount of work. The price of such a flute would start at ¥150,000 to ¥200,000. For people in America, it may be hard to believe, but some shakuhachi in Japan are incredibly expensive. I strongly recommend Monty's shakuhachi for all players."

Masuda Shuho
Master Craftsman of Traditional Shakuhachi.


 

"Monty Levenson deserves the great credit for having virtually single-handedly introduced the shakuhachi flute to America. He has now made an equally momentous step in bringing the price of quality shakuhachi within the reach of the average player by perfecting the technique of casting shakuhachi bores which duplicate those of instruments costing as much as $10,000 each; he bring the musical qualities of such rare masterpieces to shakuhachi players of modest means. The International Shakuhachi Society unreservedly recommends Tai Hei Shakuhachi to all players - up to an including those at concert levels."

Dan E. Mayers
President Emeritus, International Shakuhachi Society. 


"For the last thirty years, Japanese entrepreneurs have been thoroughly studying the American automotive industry and its market. They took an American-made product, improved it, raised the level of quality, lowered the price, and greatly improved production efficiency."For the last thirty years, Monty Levenson has been studying how to make shakuhachi. He took a traditional Japanese instruments and discovered a way to improve it, make it more affordable and easier to play. On a lesser scale, his success story rivals that of any of the large Japanese automobile companies known to all Americans. Now, In Japan, Monty's instruments are being more popular and his name more familiar. People recognize quality regardless of its origins."

Christopher Yohmei Blasdel
Shakuhachi teacher licensed by Goro Yamaguchi. Author of Shakuhachi: A Manual for Learning. Recording Artist & Lecturer.

 


"Monty H. Levenson has always been one of my favorite people. He is a rare breed - a good and honorable man. Within the past ten years, I have swung over to the use of Tai Hei Shakuhachi - an excellent and inexpensive instrument. For a flute which is normally so expensive, he has provided a way for many, many westerners to get started on the shakuhachi. His product also improves every year. Keep up the good work!"

Ronnie Nyogetsu Seldin
Founder and Grand Master, Ki-Sui-An Shakuhachi Dojo. Teacher & Recording Artist. 

 


"Dear Monty, Just got back to Japan yesterday. Thank you so much for your hospitality and time, and really number one in my mind, for what you did with my flutes. My hassun is just so much better! As I prepare to play a concert scheduled for this weekend where I will play three honkyoku, I marvel at how much more I am getting out of this flute. It really has become a mother of an instrument! Monty, you can put your stamp on it any time. You brought it back from the dead. Again, thanks to your work."

Bruce Huebner
Shakuhachi teacher trained in the classical tradition of the Kinko Ryu under Goro Yamaguchi and Junsuke Kawase. First non-Japanese to graduate from the Japanese Music Dept. of Tokyu University of Fine Arts & Music. Author of a three-volume teaching video on Kinko-ryu shakuhachi.

 


 

"With a great passion to consistently improve the quality of his craftsmanship, I have seen Monty Levenson develop into a superb shakuhachi maker over the past thirty years. Being a user of one of his shakuhachi myself as a concert instrument, I clearly recommend his shakuhachi flutes."

John Singer
Shakuhachi Master of the Kinko & Kinpu Ryu. Teacher & Recording Artist.


"If Tai Hei Shakuhachi Flutes did not exist, I would not be able to teach or perform. Whether your interest is in student or professional grade flutes, there is no other choice. Montys approach to shakuhachi making is nothing short of amazing. He has refined the traditional methods with modern techniques and this, combined with his total dedication and spiritual nature, allows him to produce instruments that are unmatched in this or maybe even any price range. These are also the easiest instruments to care for - which is very important for beginning students - as well as being virtually indestructible. Every teacher or student of this ancient art form should have at least one Tai Hei Shakuhachi in his or her collection."

Barry Nyosui Houun Weiss
Licensed Master of the Kinko School. Head of the Kita Yama Dojo. Teacher & Recording Artist.


"The shakuhachi Monty Levenson recently sent me is perfectly tuned and beautifully crafted of the finest materials. Every note strong and full. The instrument is well-balanced. Soft and sweet. Resonant and rich. Piercing, blowy and booming. I think it's fair to say that we all want at least one flute that can deliver on all of these counts. And we all probably want a 1.8 that can do so. After playing this 1.8 professional jiari shakuhachi Monty made for me, I now know first-hand how good a flute he can make. And he can make a very, very fine flute.

"Counting my years as a player of the shakuhachi in decades, I consider it no small wonder that we have in our midst such a fine maker of these flutes. We are extremely fortunate to have him doing what he does. So good is the 1.8 I recently received from Monty that I have put in reserve a flute that has been at my side for quite some time. (A very good 1.8, by the way, that Monty made even better with bore enhancement.) It is a bit sad to see an old friend displaced, but even more delightful to get to know a new, and very fluent, one."Oh, one other thing: Monty is among the friendliest, most reliable and honest people I know."

"Thank you, Monty. Thank you."

James Barrett
First Licensed Shakuhachi Teacher of Masayuki Koga.


"There are shakuhachi instruments and there are end-blown bamboo flutes that are similar to shakuhachi but are not shakuhachi because of deviations in pitch, sound production, and/or sub-standard quality of bamboo. These latter flutes may be fine to doodle on, but I couldn't teach you very much using them. In contrast, the flutes of Monty Levenson that I have seen recently are most definitely shakuhachi."

Riley Lee
Grand Master and Head, Chikuho School of Shakuhachi. Teacher & Recording Artist.


"Monty, It occured to me that I could be setting myself up for a letdown, waiting so intently... No way. I'm 100% satisfied- the 1.6' student shakuhachi is a phenominal flute, it plays like $1000.-$1500. Color is rich, as is the tone color. Just about plays itself (OK, 15years of practice helps a bit). It will probably turn up on my next album as well. Will start rehearsals with koto in a few days. Well done. This flute will come to life."

Daniel Soergel
Licensed Master of the Kinko Ryu, Teacher & Recording Artist.


"As a matter of fact, because my last ten years of playing have been so formative for me, I can say that it's your instruments that allow me to continue to develop my approach. I've been able to use with ease your professional model 5-hole flutes in contexts that require more volume than the standard repertoire pieces because of the consistency in the acoustics from fingering to fingering. I recently acquired one of your refurbished seven-hole 1.8 flutes and took it immediately on tour with me and found that I was able to make the adjustments quite readily. Again, I suspect this is because of how rigorous you are with constructing instruments (especially the bore) to your specifications. I think I've playing your instruments for more than 15 years now and I've never had a problem with them cracking despite the amount of traveling I do with them and the occasional cavalier attitude I've had with caring for them (!). They have been very reliable instruments over the years that have a great dynamic range, consistent tonal calibration, and ease of playing. Thanks so much for the expert craftsmanship and artistry you put into your work."

Kojiro Umezaki
Professional Shakuhachi Player with YoYo Ma's Silk Road Ensemble.




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