Khoomei Taiko Ensemble wrap-up

khoomei-taiko-4khoomei-taiko-3I just finished up the last leg of the Khoomei Taiko Ensemble tour.  These two great photos of our last concert were taken by Daniel Sheehan a Seattle based photography who specializes in Jazz photography.  He posts photos from every performance at the Earshot Jazz Festival so check out his website for more full size photos of the Khoomei Taiko Ensemble performance and other Earshot Jazz Festival performances.

After New York we flew to Seattle for two concerts and a workshop.  The Seattle Taiko community took great care of us and I’d like to give a shout out to Stan, Linda, Masae and Eric for all of their help!

Our first day in Seattle we stayed at the historic Panama Hotel in the International District.  It was great staying in the ID because of all the fantastic restaurants in walking distance.  The next day Kaoru and Miki had a presentation at the Wing Luke Museum and that night we drove out to Wenatchee.  We had a school performance and a public performance in Wenatchee had a nice dinner slept for a couple of hours then drove back to Seattle for a two taiko workshops at the Japanese Cultural Center of Washington.  The tour culminated in a great performance at Seattle’s Town Hall as part of the Earshot Jazz Festival.  It was a great end to the tour and the last concert felt really great.  Everybody played beautifully, Teserendorj songs filled the hall with images of horses galloping across the steppe, Miki rocked the house with a powerful rendition of “Tori no Yo Ni”, Kaoru and Khongorzol’s duet went from delicate to soul piecing and Shinetsog blew everybody’s mind with his masterful demonstration of Mongolian Khoomei technique.

The highlight of the concert for me personally was “Haru no Umi” a famous Japanese song that Miki suggested we use as a starting off point for group improvisation.  Improvising with four musicians can be kind of a hit or miss affair but that night it flowed so easily.  I could sense exactly where the other musicians wanted to go and it was like we were moving, thinking and playing as one four headed dancing monster with a koto for it’s right hand, a morin-huur for it’s left hand, fue for horns and taiko for feet.  These moments don’t happen all time but when they do it’s euphoric.

After the concert we had once last meal together then parted ways.  Miki had to leave for the airport at 3am, although her flight got cancelled so we got to see her at the airport again.  Teddy and Aziz flew to New York and the rest of us flew to Los Angeles and met up for a brunch before the Mongolians headed back to Ulaanbaatar.  All in all the Khoomei Taiko Ensemble was a great experience.  Performing and collaborating with this group of amazing musicians was humbling and insipring. As an artist that is constantly looking for opportunities to grow and expand my musical palatte I can’t really ask for anything more.

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