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The International Shakuhachi Society

John Kaizan Neptune


Neptune, John Kaizan
Born 1951/11/13

Shakuhachi & Maker

Neptune was born in Oakland, California, on November 13, 1951 and moved with his family to San Diego, California when he was two. He played trumpet in high school and later was a drummer in a rock band. For college he chose the University of Hawaii, basically for surfing, but also began to study ethnomusicology. "I was interested in learning the Indian tabla," recalls John, "but at that time in Hawaii there was no one to teach me. My number two choice was the shakuhachi. I was really fascinated because on the high notes it sounds like a flute and on the lower ones it sound husky, almost like a saxophone. And when I found out it was a five-holed flute made from a piece of bamboo-- I was hooked!" He began playing in Hawaii with a Japanese Buddhist priest in 1971.

Later in 1973 John move to Kyoto, Japan, to continue shakuhachi study for one year, but then returned to Honolulu to complete a degree in ethnomusicology. After graduation John traveled again to Kyoto and in March 1977 after several years of intense study he received the "shi-han", or master's certificate in the Tozan School of Shakuhachi. At that time he was awarded the honorary name "Kaizan" which means Sea Mountain.

Since then, John Kaizan Neptune has made a mark in contemporary music as an artist of exploration and expansion. His adaptation of the shakuhachi to various worldwide musical settings has been his forte since the beginning of his career. Looking back, his first major highlight was his third record release, Bamboo. It was awarded Outstanding Album of the Year for 1980 by the Cultural Affairs Agency of the Japanese Ministry of Education-- the first time ever a jazz album or foreign artist has been so honored!!

All throughout the 1980's Neptune toured and released albums that utilized the shakuhachi with various instrumentation. His most notable recording during the early years were Mixed Bag and West Of Somewhere, both of which leaned again toward a jazz-based rhythm section. These albums featured such outstanding American musicians as Don Grusin, Robben Ford, Nathan East, Abraham Laboriel, Alex Acuna, Kenny Kirland, Buster Williams, Cornell Dupree, and others.

After an early flirtation with jazz fusion John started to record acoustic albums using ideas from different musical cultures but with Western and Japanese influences as a constant factor. The bamboo master's 1992 project, entitled Kite, featured German musicians George Lawall on classical guitar and the Modern string Quartet. The CD was recorded in a church in Oberiennignen, Germany, and was highly acclaimed in both Billboard and Swing Journal magazines.

Neptune continues to step out beyond traditional Japanese music and takes the shakuhachi to places yet unexplored, and to settings unimaginable. River Rhythm, found him journeying to Madras, India, where he teamed up with Indian instruments and players to create some truly exotic sound colors. "I have know for years the shakuhachi timbre would work well in an Indian setting. It was only a matter of time before an album like this would finally take place," comments John. "You might say the whole project has a heavy air of Madras magic to it."

And magic indeed! the album's title cut draws heavily on a long flowing melodic line, a traditional characteristic of shakuhachi, and is backed up by the smooth backbeat of Malaysian drummer-cohort Lewis Pragasam. Each track has its own individual twist to offer featuring such instruments as a twangy jew's harp, a Nivanic string harp, tuned water cups, and more. Neptune's River Rhythm takes listeners on a musical journey to India laced with World music rhythms, blues, New Age, and jazz.

After exploring new ground for the past 15 years, John went back to his "traditional Japanese roots" with Prime Numbers. Although the project features traditional Japanese instruments, the melodies and harmonies have a strikingly non-traditional flavor to them. "It was my intent," reports John, "to feature traditional instruments in ways that are not typically traditional." The instruments used for the recording, the 5-holed shakuhachi, the 3-stringed shamisen, the 13-stringed koto, and the 17-stringed bass koto, just to happen to all contain prime numbers!

To date, John has performed live and has toured North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia. When he is not recording or performing he his spending time making shakuhachi and other bamboo instruments in his home-workshop in the Japanese countryside.



Asiabeat Asiabeat

Asian Roots - Takedake with Neptune Asian Roots - Takedake with Neptune

TakeDake means "Bamboo Only" which aptly describes John Neptune's new band. All of the instruments on this incredible album are made of bamboo. Most of them were made by Neptune himself.

Bamboo Bamboo

Honored as the Outstanding Album of the Year by the Cultural Affairs Agency of the Japanese Ministry of Education in 1980. Shakuhachi/Jazz fusion.

Bamboo Textures Bamboo Textures

Circle, The Circle, The

John is joined by 2 musicians from India and 7 from Japan. Music composed, arranged, produced and played by Neptune.

Dance for the One in Six Dance for the One in Six

Classic Neptune fusion using Japanese and Indian instruments.

Digital 45 Digital 45

Discotheque Fantasy Discotheque Fantasy

Jazzen Jazzen

Joy Joy

Kite Kite

Shakuhachi, guitar and string quartet recorded at St. Maria Church in Germany.

Mixed Bag Mixed Bag

Prime Numbers Prime Numbers

Shakuhachi and koto in a unique synthesis of sound. An extraordinary album of modern interpretative pieces composed by Neptune.

River Rhythm River Rhythm

Neptune's recent visit to India. Shakuhachi in ensemble with traditional Indian musicians and instruments.

Shakuhachi Mellow Jazz Shakuhachi Mellow Jazz

"American Honkyoku" at its best! Jazz standards along with two original compositions played on long shakuhachi - 2.4', 2.9' and 3.2'.

Shogun Shogun

Original compositions in a jazz/rock idiom.

Sir Duke - Summertime Sir Duke - Summertime

Sky Spirit Sky Spirit

Shakuhachi / Jazz fusion.

Tokyosphere Tokyosphere

This group is composed of masters of traditional Japanese instruments. Music ranges from "shibui" moments of mellow to jazz with pizazz.

Two In Flight Two In Flight

We Three Jazz - Norio Maeda Trio We Three Jazz - Norio Maeda Trio

West of Somewhere West of Somewhere

Words Can't Go There Words Can't Go There

Solo shakuhachi recorded in Neptune's dome house.

Tracks Recorded

Adyar SunriseRiver Rhythm
Angklung JourneyAsian Roots - Takedake with Neptune
Angklung JourneyAsian Roots - Takedake with Neptune
Asa KazeWords Can't Go There
Bamboo BluesMixed Bag
Bamboo BornJazzen
Bamboo CutterKite
Bamboo GroveAsiabeat
Bamboo PrincessKite
Between CoudsKite
Blue WindBamboo
Blue WindBamboo Textures
BluesWe Three Jazz - Norio Maeda Trio
Brazz BreezeShogun
Bring to LightRiver Rhythm
Can You Feel The BeatJazzen
Canyon ViewPrime Numbers
Circle, TheCircle, The
ColoringsWords Can't Go There
Dance for the ONE in SixDance for the One in Six
Day BeginningShogun
Diamond HeadDiscotheque Fantasy
DjangoWe Three Jazz - Norio Maeda Trio
East of EverywhereDance for the One in Six
East of EverywhereDigital 45
Either WaySky Spirit
El Condor PasaDiscotheque Fantasy
Evening WavesDance for the One in Six
ExploreDigital 45
Five And Thirteen Are Prime NumbersPrime Numbers
Five DirectionsJazzen
Five NodesAsian Roots - Takedake with Neptune
Five PenniesWe Three Jazz - Norio Maeda Trio
Five WindowsShogun
Four FunSky Spirit
Four SeaterWest of Somewhere
Fun Key (Ra Ra Ra)Bamboo
Gentle FaceDance for the One in Six
Georgia on My MindSir Duke - Summertime
Going To TownPrime Numbers
Haiku MusicBamboo Textures
Hear the LightTokyosphere
Hey JudeDigital 45
High on FiveRiver Rhythm
Hon ShirabeWords Can't Go There
HopefulTwo In Flight
How Could I KnowMixed Bag
I Just Called to Say I Love YouSir Duke - Summertime
I'll Remember AprilWe Three Jazz - Norio Maeda Trio
In a Sentimental MoodWe Three Jazz - Norio Maeda Trio
In The AirTokyosphere
In the DistanceSky Spirit
In the HollowAsian Roots - Takedake with Neptune
India IndigoCircle, The
Isn't She LovelyWest of Somewhere
Japanese RootsAsian Roots - Takedake with Neptune
JavaAsian Roots - Takedake with Neptune
JegogingAsian Roots - Takedake with Neptune
JoyDance for the One in Six
Jungle TrailTokyosphere
Knock On SkyPrime Numbers
KogarashiWords Can't Go There
Korea IdeaAsian Roots - Takedake with Neptune
Last DanceDiscotheque Fantasy
Last Song, TheWest of Somewhere
Like Someone in LoveWe Three Jazz - Norio Maeda Trio
Love Me TenderDiscotheque Fantasy
Macho ManDiscotheque Fantasy
Manha do Carnaval and Samba de OrfeuSir Duke - Summertime
MayamalavagaulaRiver Rhythm
Mixed Weave - Part 1Bamboo Textures
Mixed Weave - Part 1Mixed Bag
Mixed Weave - Part 2Mixed Bag
Mogamigawa Funa UtaWords Can't Go There
Moon ReturnKite
Moon SpiritsPrime Numbers
Mountain EchoDance for the One in Six
Mountain MistCircle, The
Mountain PathTwo In Flight
MusashiCircle, The
My Favorite ThingsSir Duke - Summertime
New York State of MindSir Duke - Summertime
Night FeverDiscotheque Fantasy
Night TrainSir Duke - Summertime
No CloudsDance for the One in Six
No WallsSky Spirit
North of No PlaceCircle, The
Ocean MotionAsian Roots - Takedake with Neptune
On a RaftJazzen
Open EyesTwo In Flight
Over the RainbowSir Duke - Summertime
Parting PathsAsian Roots - Takedake with Neptune
Past And PresentWords Can't Go There
PentasonicDigital 45
Piece in Our Time, ARiver Rhythm
PlaygroundDance for the One in Six
Quiet EssenceRiver Rhythm
RapidsRiver Rhythm
Red Moss RockSky Spirit
RhythmWest of Somewhere
Rhythm of the RainDiscotheque Fantasy
RippleRiver Rhythm
River RhythmRiver Rhythm
Roots And BranchesPrime Numbers
RosieSky Spirit
RyukyuCircle, The
S.F.West of Somewhere
Sagari Ha (Nezasa Ha)Words Can't Go There
Sailing EastKite
Sailing EastShogun
Sailing with YouWest of Somewhere
SampaguitaTwo In Flight
Satin DollSir Duke - Summertime
Seventh AvenueTokyosphere
Shades of BlueRiver Rhythm
Shakuhachi DanceMixed Bag
Shakuhachi ShuffleWest of Somewhere
Shika no Tône (Kinko Ryû)Words Can't Go There
Sibumi (String Play)Shogun
Simple Happy SongTwo In Flight
Sir DukeSir Duke - Summertime
Skip ItJazzen
Sky and Sand WayAsian Roots - Takedake with Neptune
Sky SpiritSky Spirit
Soaring MosaicTwo In Flight
Soft MelodyMixed Bag
SomethingDiscotheque Fantasy
Soul of the DeepCircle, The
South Of SomeplaceMixed Bag
Spirit LiftCircle, The
Spring BreezeCircle, The
Stayin' AliveDiscotheque Fantasy
Stella by StarlightWe Three Jazz - Norio Maeda Trio
Stream DanceTokyosphere
String OfferingRiver Rhythm
SummertimeSir Duke - Summertime
Temple RoadDigital 45
Temple RoadJoy
TentsukuSky Spirit
Thank God It's FridayDiscotheque Fantasy
Till There Was YouSir Duke - Summertime
Time DesignTokyosphere
Tokyo BluesTokyosphere
Tokyo PaceCircle, The
Trapped In FactMixed Bag
Traveling TogetherDance for the One in Six
TsuruTwo In Flight
Tsuru no Sugomori (Tozan)Words Can't Go There
TurbulenceSky Spirit
Two PocketsRiver Rhythm
Two's BluesKite
UdubooAsian Roots - Takedake with Neptune
Under the TreeDance for the One in Six
Walk DowntownBamboo
Water's EdgeJazzen
WaveSir Duke - Summertime
Weather WarningBamboo Textures
West of SomewhereDance for the One in Six
West of SomewhereJoy
West of SomewhereWest of Somewhere
What Does It TakeTwo In Flight
Winding PathJoy
Wing ItKite
Words Can't Go ThereJoy
Words Can't Go ThereWords Can't Go There
Yamato DawnTokyosphere
You're the One That I WantDiscotheque Fantasy
Zen ForestJazzen
ZipSir Duke - Summertime

Composed or Arranged

Shakuhachi Compositions
YearTitleKanjiAlternate Title

Angklung Journeyアンクルン・ジャーニー


Bamboo Grove

Blue Wind

Brazz Breeze

Day Beginning

Either Wayイーザー・ウェイ


Five Nodes五節 ( いつふし )

Five Windows

Four Funフォア・ファン

Four Seater

Fun Key (Ra Ra Ra)


Haiku Music

In the Distanceイン・ザ・ディスタンス

In the Hollowイン・ザ・ホロウ

Japanese Rootsジャバニーズ・ルーツ



Korea Ideaコリア・アイディア

Last Song, The


No Wallsノー・ウォールズ

Ocean Motionオーシャン・モーション

Red Moss Rock紅岩




Sailing with You


Shakuhachi Shuffle


Sibumi (String Play)

Sky and Sand Wayスカイ・アンド・サンド・ウェイ

Sky Spirit飛天

Temple Road




Walk Downtown

Weather Warning

West of Somewhere

Winding Path


Sailing East

Dance for the ONE in Six

East of Everywhere

Evening Waves

Gentle Face


Mountain Echo

No Clouds



Traveling Together

Under the Tree

Bamboo Born竹生

Can You Feel The Beatキャン・ユー・フィール・ザ・ビート


Five Directions五方


On a Raftいかだに乗って

Skip Itスキップ・イット


Water's Edge水辺にて

Zen Forest禅林

Bamboo Cutter

Bamboo Princess

Moon Return

Between Couds


Two's Blues

Wing It

Adyar Sunriseアダヤルの日の出

Bring to Light発見

High on Fiveハイ・オン・ファイブ


Piece in Our Time, Aアワー・タイム

Quiet Essence和気



River Rhythmリバー・リズム

Shades of Blue青の色合い

String Offering弦の捧げもの

Two Pocketsトゥー・ポケット


Studying the Shakuhachi in the Tozan-Ryu


The International Shakuhachi Society - 2018