Born into a famous shakuhachi family, Aoki
was already playing the instrument by the time he became aware of
his surroundings. It seems that he was born to play shakuhachi.
His father started teaching him formally at the age of six and he
began his professional activities at the age of 16. At the age of
19, his father died and thereafter Aoki had to find his own way.
Already by the time he was in his twenties, he was considered one
of the top shakuhachi performers in Japan.
Aoki's music is perhaps most noted for a clarity which other performers
just cannot imitate. His sharpness is the best there is. His tone
color which displays unusual breadth with its strong contrast between
the low and high registers has luster, passion and subtlty. And
his performances have a purity, elegance and grace within which
dwells a highly refined technique and an intensely polished spirit.
It is not an issue of proper balance between sensitivity, intelligence
and technique, but rather each of those is so highly conspicuous,
and they meld together at an extraordinarily high dimension, at
the very pinnacle of musical attainment.
Aoki learned shakuhachi from his father, Reibo Aoki I and became
head of that lineage in 1975, becoming Reibo Aoki II. Head of the
Reibo-kai Shakuhachi Guild, Aoki is an extremely strong, powerful
player with a highly disciplined technique. His rich sound and stunning
performances in both the classical Kinko style and contemporary
music have become a standard in shakuhachi music. Aoki's performances
of "Shika no Tone" in tandem with Goro Yamaguchi
are considered definitive. The Teizo Matsumura composition "Shikyoku
Ichiban" has become a standard of Modern Hougaku Genre
where standards are few.
first major tour abroad came in 1973, a forty day Japan Foundation
sponsored tour of North America and Europe. Recently, in 1996 and
1997, Aoki traveled to China as a member of a friendship tour arranged
by the Japanese Cultural Exchange Society.
vast discography which includes the award-winning "Take
Ippon - Aoki Reibo" on Crown Records continues to
inspire shakuhachi enthusiasts as a source of 'authentic' sound.
is designated "Living National Treasure".