Dumbo Feather Magazine. 2013

Riley Lee is a grandmaster

Interview by Berry Liberman

Zen and the art of Shakuhachi seem an impossible path for a Chinese-American boy born in Texas in 1951, who grew up loving Led Zeppelin and country and western music. But for Riley Lee accidental journeys are what life is all about.

As a young traveller in the 1970s, Riley found his way to Japan, an exotic, remote place at that time, still emerging from the rubble of the Second World War and steeped in tradition. One fateful day, he ambled into a music store, thinking it would be fun to buy a Shakuhachi flute. Instead of selling it to him, the man behind the counter gave him the number of the only Shakuhachi teacher with a phone.