Archive for September, 2008

More Hiroshima gigs

Monday, September 29th, 2008

Just got back to LA from a weekend of more gigs with Hiroshima. We had a great series of gigs at the Birchmere, the Rams Head and the Tampa Performing Arts Center. The Birchmere and the Rams Head gigs have become a bit of a tradition for the band the the audiences are always great. In October Hiroshima is headed up to San Francisco for a week of gig at the Rrazz Room at the Hotel Nikko.

Maz and Kris are both in Tokyo preparing for Kris’ natori debut performance at ON Ensemble ’08: YOBU. I’m working on two recording projects for On Ensemble. We’re recording parts for a collaborative piece with Patrick Graham for his upcoming solo CD and I’ll be working on the EP4 an exclusive recording for our FoundatiOn Team.

Last Show

Saturday, September 27th, 2008

Not for us, but it was for ASL (Alternate Sound of Life) tonight.  Ian Mora (lead singer) and I used to play in a rock band in high school and, along with Shoji, we grew up playing taiko in Shasta Taiko.  Since Shoji and I went off to do the taiko/music path, Ian went on to do his own thing and continued playing alt/rock down in the Los Angeles/Orange County area along with another great friend of ours from Mt. Shasta, Akilino Jacky (drummer).  They created some great music, but decided to hang it up.  We’ll miss you ASL!!!  Best of luck to you all in your next path in life…

First 2008 FoundatiOn Team members

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

A huge thank you goes out to our first 2008 FoundatiOn Team members: Miyo Minato, Eiko Amano, John & Gloria Masunaga, Julia Kato, Elisha Davis, Wendy Fedor-Kameda, Michael & Joyce Yoshimura, Hiromi Ashmore, Randy Coleman and Donna Uyematsu!

We’ve raised $1081 in our first week! Thank you!


Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

Hola! Just came back from Mexico with TAIKOPROJECT. It was an awesome experience, although I don’t think I’ll eat Mexican food for another year… yeah right! I love Mexican food… especially chips and salsa. Yum!

Bryan, founder of TP, had the brilliant idea of playing Cielito Lindo at the end of our encore. The audience went nuts!!! They all sang along. It was awesome.

Here is a photo in Chihuahua from the stage looking out to the courtyard where the audience sat. At night, the lights lit up all around us. All the lights were red, green, and white (the Mexican state flag colors) because they were celebrating their independence. It was taken by Tomomi Hongo.

Well… we survived another crazy performance!

Next up for me is Japan!

What is the FoundatiOn Team?

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

The FoundatiOn Team is On Ensemble’s core group of fans; the critical support group that makes new music and great performances possible. It is the financial support of the FoundatiOn Team that makes On Ensemble’s home concerts feasible. To show our appreciation each year we prepare special thank-you gifts, including limited edition CD singles, organic cotton t-shirts and other goodies that are available only to our FoundatiOn Team members.

If you are interested in becoming a foundation team member send Kris an email at: kris (at)

On Ensemble International

Monday, September 22nd, 2008

While I’m here gigging with Hiroshima, Maz is in Mexico performing with Taikoproject and Kris is in Japan preparing for his natori debut at ON Ensemble ’08: YOBU. After Mexico Maz will join Kris in Japan for more preparation. We’re really proud of Kris as he accomplishes something only a few people outside of Japan have done. Receiving a professional stage name (natori) from a traditional school is no small matter and very rare in nagauta for someone outside of Japan. Here in Los Angeles there are several high quality Nihon Buyo (Japanese dance) schools, like the Azuma-ryu led by Madame Sumako Azuma, that have strong ties to their parent school in Japan and regularly see dancers receive their natori but there aren’t strong nagauta schools where someone can get high quality training in Los Angeles.

If you want a natori in nagauta you really have to go to Japan and make contacts there. That’s what Kenny Endo did, he spent ten years in Japan studying nagauta and receiving his natori and became the first non-Japanese national to receive his natori in nagauta percussion. Kris is going to receive his natori in nagauta shamisen and we don’t know if he’s the first but he will definitely be one of a very very few non-Japanese nationals to have done so.

Hiroshima gigs

Monday, September 22nd, 2008

I had a busy weekend of gigs with Hiroshima, the grammy nominated jazz fusion band I play with.  On Friday we played at Anthology a fantastic new club in San Diego, on Saturday the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts and Sunday we were in San Antonio for the annual Jazz’SAlive festival.  All the gigs were great, but my favorite was the Cerritos Center performance.  Terry Steele, Yvette Nii and Richie Gajate Garcie all joined Hiroshima for the performance.  As a percussionist it’s always fantastic to work with Gajate.  He’s one of the top Latin percussionist in the world and has worked with everybody and their mom.  His chops are scary and he is always coming up with great parts and suggestions and I really learn a lot every time I get a chance to play with him.

One of the best perks of working with an established band like Hiroshima (30 years in the recording industry) is the opportunity to play with old pros.  I mean “old” in the best possible way.  There are lots of people in this town who are great musicians and who have tons of chops and musical ability, but in music you really can’t replace experience.  It takes time to master an instrument, takes time to know when and what to play and even more time to know when not to play.  You can hear life experiences in every note people play and it’s humbling to play with artists who have 30 plus years of playing music at the highest level every time they pick up their instrument.

Next weekend I’m off to Annapolis, DC and Florida with the band, for more information on Hiroshima dates check the band’s website.

Yukai Daiko

Monday, September 15th, 2008
Workshop With Yukai Daiko

Workshop With Yukai Daiko

Kris and I held workshops yesterday with Yukai Daiko. Yukai has always been so supportive to On Ensemble and TAIKOPROJECT. Thanks to Yuta Kato, the founder of Yukai and former member of both On and TP, they have always been there for us when we need help at our concerts. So, in return for those favors, we hope to give workshops to them from time to time. Thank you Yukai!

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