#32 Breathing Bamboo

By Cornelius Boots


Cornelius Boots is a woodwinding pioneer, composer and root philosopher. He is a nanotheist and elemental-nature lover.

After a 30-year career of high-caliber jazz, classical, rock and experimental music activities (on multiple woodwinds with a focus on the bass clarinet), Boots has now positioned himself at the crossroads of personal expression and divine revelation, exclusively playing bamboo shakuhachi  (jinashi/hotchiku) and its baritone brother, Taimu. He is the founder of Black Earth Shakuhachi School, and composes music for The Heavy Roots Shakuhachi Ensemble, the world’s first bass shakuhachi group. (For bass clarinet and Edmund Welles-related information, go here.)

In 2018, he was a World Shakuhachi Competition finalist and featured at Sony PlayStation’s E3 (LA). Also in 2018, he performed at the World Bamboo Congress (Xalapa, Mexico) and the World Shakuhachi Festival (London).  In 2019, Boots founded the Heavy Roots Shakuhachi Ensemble, debuting at SF Music Day.  In 2020, the Boots received a Musical Grant Program Award from InterMusic SF to compose four movements of Wood Prophecy, a woodwind chamber saga for the Heavy Roots.  The music video for his composition “Green Swampy Water” won Best Music Video in the Tokyo International Short Film Festival in January 2021.

Cornelius is a sought-after composer, performer, and teacher. He is reshaping the landscape of modern shakuhachi performance and teaching through introducing a robust body of new compositions and a set of expressive signature techniques.

Music from Today’s episode by Cornelius Boots

“Black Earth” from Sacred Root: Kung Fu Flute & Buddhist Blues (Shakuhachi Unleashed Vol. III)

“IV. Dark Hallow” and “V. Wood Prophecy” from Wood Prophecy

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