Sunday, June 27, 2010
"Drumming at the Edge of Magic: A Journey into the Spirit of Percussion," by Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart is Japanese drummer Toshinori Takimoto's bible.
And it shows in every way at his Drum Circle, a once-a-month gathering at a Tokyo suburb, a special spot for those who love the spirit of the drum, sharing in the oneness in the rhythms they create like a dance of sound.
Takimoto switches from one instrument to another, shaking a shekere, jangling a tambourine, whacking a djembe, sometimes orchestra conductor, sometimes master percussionist, sometimes fatherly teacher.
He jokes around, gesticulates like a mime, a shaman of the drum, all the time playing with energy, keeping the rhythm going so that everyone sounds pretty good.
Never fear: He won't get mad _ even if you mess up.
The players seated in a circle do the best they can to follow where the music is going in a jubilant outburst of Takimoto's drumbeat.
Playing together, keeping time to a primordial beat, brings harmony, says Takimoto, who has played with the big names in the Japanese pop music industry, including Yutaka Ozaki and Seiko Matsuda.
But he says he feels the kind of music he is pursuing with his Drum Circle is more him than the glitzy but often empty world of commercial music.
And somehow, each of us leaves his Drum Circle a gentler, maybe happier, person, a skip in our feet and a buzzing warmth in our hearts.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Isaku Kageyama's Modern Music Ensemble of Tokyo seeks to break down boundaries, with an ambition inspired by the spirit of the Art Ensemble of Chicago, and to show there is only good music and bad music, as the great Duke Ellington said.
Featuring taiko drumming(Isaku Kageyama), shakuhachi flute (Yoshinori Kikuchi), Tsugaru-style shamisen (Seiemon Sawada) and regular Western-style bass (Gian), mixing it all up with minyo folk songs, bluegrass, Cuban, pop and original compositions, embarking on a journey that is about one-ness, the "kizuna" of Music, and to claim for taiko and Japanese modern music a rightful place in that universal legacy.