Like the instrument he plays, the centuries-old shakuhachi flute, Riley Lee has found he has staying power. Lee, an Australian esteemed as a dai shihan (grand master) of the traditional Japanese instrument, found his first audience in the alternative-health community during the 1980s, when cassettes of his unhurried explorations of the shakuhachi’s broad expressive palette became popular items. Narada has periodically reissued these evocative works on CD and, considering how the pace of life has intensified since the music’s original release dates, the soothing, ancient wind that blows through Lee’s shakuhachi seems more welcomed and therapeutic than ever. Buddha’s Dream was first released in 1984, and the ethereal expositions found on it–as hokey as this may sound to the unconverted–effectively encourage states of introspection and stillness that are a balm to the body and spirit. Broken into shorter segments than the prolonged improvisations found on such jewels as Sanctuary andOriental Sunrise, Buddha’s Dream at times involves more notes and occasionally conveys a stronger hint of mystery than is found on either of those lovely discs. Still, the same sweetness and gentle spirit radiates in pieces such as “Return of the Fisherman,” “Seabreezes,” and “As the Water Flows.” A splendid choice as an audio backdrop for mediation or massage. –Terry Wood
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