November 26th, 2014 | posted by: kris
I like to use hits on the body of the taiko for a nice, woody sound that’s higher-pitch than the rim of the taiko. On my own drums, I just play the body directly, but when borrowing a taiko, I need a way to cover the body. Enter the “doukake”, or “ki-pad” as we call it (“ki” is the kuchishoga term we use for this hit, as opposed to “ka” for the regular rim). It turns out it’s easy to make a doukake from the staves of a discarded taiko barrel.
November 14th, 2014 | posted by: shoji
Last weekend I had one of the most amazing experiences in my musical career. I was invited to perform with Odaiko Sonora at the All Souls Procession in Tuscon, AZ. The procession is a community funded ritual and art celebration of those who have passed before us.
The Procession had its beginnings in 1990 with a ritualistic performance piece created by local artist Susan Johnson, who was grieving the passing of her father.
Inspired by Mexico’s Dia de los Muertos holiday, Johnson felt she should honor her father in celebration and creativity. She gathered a couple dozen friends and performance artists to join her.
The performance was very well received and many artists were inspired to continue growing the Procession into its modern incarnation. -allsoulsprocession.org
This year the three fearless leaders of Odaiko Sonora: Karen, Rome and Nicole were tasked with creating the music for the final ritual. They brought together an amazing array of guest musicians and drummers from around the taiko world to create a 4 part musical journey. One of my tracks “Same Planet Different World” from On Ensemble’s first album Dust and Sand got used for the opening. Karen arranged the track and added Aki Takahashi’s amazing vocals on top to create the first movement. It was an unreal experience playing a track I recorded with my laptop in a closet for 100,000 people while performing on top of a 8 story ziggurat made of shipping containers.
The next section was composed by Rome and featured many different scenes including a throat singing duet between Kyle Abbott and myself followed by some intricate choreography of the 20 or so Earth Drummers on the stage below us. The movement ended with Kristy as a single solitary drummer in the middle of the stage. Then it was time for Tiffany Tamaribuchi’s o-hira solo from the very top of the ziggurat some 8 stories high.
The final section was composed and choreographed by Nicole and served as the joyous finally complete with chanting, tons of drumming, the urn bursting into flames and the appearance of flame winged angels. I kid you not.
Describing the only the music of the final ritual does not do it justice. There were aerialist, stilt walkers, a chorus of community members acting out scenes, and amazing fire spinners all in inspired costumes and make up. It’s really hard to explain what the All Souls Procession experience is like and really needs to be experienced to be understood. I want to give a HUGE shout out and THANK YOU to Karen, Rome, Nicole, Odaiko Sonora for inviting me to be a part of such a special event. Here a few photos from Katherine Saunder’s Flickr Stream of the finale:
October 30th, 2014 | posted by: kris
Maz, Shoji, Eien, David, and I performed a massive version of Karc / Joan of Arc, the bachi-tossing Duet, and Jack Bazaar with LATI staff and students. Thanks to Katsuji for taking video, and bringing earplugs!
October 28th, 2014 | posted by: shoji
October 22nd, 2014 | posted by: kris
Thanks to the hard work of Yuta, Kiyoshi, and Ian, we’ll be trying Eau de Squarepusher in the concert this Saturday. Although we’ve been working on it for a few years, we’ve never been satisfied with our performances of it. Considering this last run of rehearsal yesterday, perhaps this Saturday will be the first time we do it justice!