Tickets are still available for Reduction 2 showcase on Saturday night.
Both of our TAIKO LEGACY 11 shows are completely SOLD OUT!
Sat 12/20/14 7:30PM: Edlis Neeson Theater @ MCA
Tatsu Aoki bridges East and West at MCA
By Howard Reichcontact the reporter
Some of the most fiercely individualistic work in Chicago jazz has come from the cross-cultural sensibility of bassist-bandleader Tatsu Aoki.
Bridging ancient folkloric traditions of his native Japan with ever-changing currents of the Chicago avant-garde, Aoki has created major, evening-length works that are as viscerally exciting as they are intellectually provocative. Even the titles of pieces such as "Rooted: Origins of Now" (2001), "re: Rooted" (2006) and "Trans-Rooted" (2010) express Aoki's mission: to infuse new ideas in music with the majesty of his own heritage.
This weekend, Aoki and his Tsukasa Taiko ensemble will present a three-concert marathon at the Museum of Contemporary Art, which has been a kind of laboratory for him for nearly two decades. Bringing his distinctive form of music to a theatrical stage has enabled Aoki to transcend the environment of the jazz club, a boon to anyone who values distinctive sounds boldly presented.
"At the MCA, one of the things I get to do is play with a real stage," says Aoki of his residency there. "So not only do we play music and (create) improvisations, but I also get to use visual aspects of it as theater. … I'm happy to take it on stage and cook it."
By that Aoki means that he's not presenting Japanese musical traditions in a straightforward manner. Instead, he's essentially "reinventing" those traditions, as he puts it, enlisting taiko drummers and others to thunder at their instruments, but in intricately choreographed, visually startling forms that he and his colleagues have conceived for the stage.
Aoki hastens to note that when he was growing up in Japan in the 1970s, he did not encounter Japanese taiko drumming in this way. So he really has modified this music to suit his own expressive needs, which, of course, is what artistic visionaries do.
Specifically, Aoki this weekend will offer audiences two distinct perspectives on his work.
At 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Aoki will present "Taiko Legacy 11," a family-friendly performance that features various combinations of taiko drummers delivering the jolting rhythms and startling attacks that audiences around the world admire.
"It's kind of like a full-scale folk arts concert," says Aoki of a work that incorporates dancers, drummers and other instrumentalists.
"I wouldn't say that what I do with this group is exactly folkloric," he adds, since he has altered certain Japanese musical rituals for the MCA stage. "But it's kind of similar to what a famous group like Kodo and others do."
In effect, these matinee performances welcome taiko novices and aficionados alike, for anyone can respond to the pulsing sounds and magisterial ceremonies of this work.
At 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Aoki will offer an updated version of "Reduction," a jazz-based, autobiographical piece he staged last year at the MCA. Through sound and gesture, Aiko and a small group of musicians tell the story of Aoki's artistic evolution from a teenager in Japan to his development as a significant jazz figure in Chicago.
The core appeal of this opus, as last year's performance showed, was Aoki's collaboration with fellow jazz improvisers who stand at the forefront of Chicago experimentation. There's really no predicting what Aoki will invent in the company of such formidable players as woodwind virtuosos Edward Wilkerson Jr., Douglas Ewart and Mwata Bowden, flutist Nicole Mitchell, singer Dee Alexander, percussionists Michael Zerang and Hamid Drake, plus taiko drummer Eigen Aoki (Tatsu's son).
It's a smaller group than that in "Taiko Legacy 11," but one that's focused on advancing the art of taiko drumming through jazz improvisation.
"During the '70s in Tokyo, when I was a teenager doing this work, I didn't have the world-class jazz musicians (that) I have here," says Aoki.
"This is my quest for what the future taiko drummer aesthetic should be, as opposed to always looking at the larger ensemble. … Today, when most people hear (the word) taiko, they think of the larger ensemble."
In "Reduction," by contrast, Aoki instead leans toward what he calls a "chamber tradition" emphasizing forms of improvisation universally identified with Chicago's Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM). The result is a music rich in complexity and technical sophistication, but driven in part by the theatricality of the taiko tradition.
There's nothing else quite like it in jazz, Aoki having developed a difficult-to-categorize musical vocabulary that evolves from one performance to the next ? and that's well-suited to the innovative hub that is the MCA.
2014 - Taiko Legacy 11 & Reduction 2
Annual Taiko Legacy Concert at Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
Embrace the community with a journey of Taiko arts Coming back to MCA!
Featuring Tsukasa Taiko and GenRyu Arts (SF)
** Tickets on Sale Now @ MCA web site **
Saturday, December 20 @7:30pm
Tickets on Sale Now @ MCA web site
Saturday, December 20 @3pm
and Sunday, December 21 @3pm
Taiko Legacy 11
Tickets on Sale Now @ MCA web site
Thursday, January 1 2015
Mitsuwa Marketplace : New Year Festival
100 E. Algonquin Rd. Arlington Heights, IL 60005
Sunday, January 11 2015
Museum of Science and Industry
5700 S. Lake Shore Dr. Chicago, IL 60637
Wednesday, January 14 2015 @10:30am
Logan Center School Matinee Program
The University of Chicago
Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts
Friday, January 16 2015
Whitney M. Young Magnet High School 60607
Saturday, January 17 2015 @9:30pm
Constellation Links Hall
3111 N. Western Ave. Chicago, IL 60618
please visit the complete listing page
2014 Thanksgiving Parade
Watch our annual Thanksgiving Parade performance on-demand here: http://youtu.be/_Wu7f5qpHIw?t=12m59s,
(Tsukasa Taiko @ 12:59)
or http://go.wgntv.com/1F5oauP (Tsukasa Taiko @ 14:40)
Do you remember...?
2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010
JASC: Japanese American Service Committee of Chicago
Celebrating its 67th year of serving the community, the mission of the Japanese American Service Committee of Chicago is to preserve and raise awareness of Japanese American culture and heritage, and promote the physical and spiritual well-being of Japanese Americans and the greater multicultural community in the Midwest. Visit www.jasc-chicago.org for more information.
AIRMW: Asian Improv aRts Midwest
Asian Improv aRts Midwest's mission is to build a vital, self-empowered Asian American community in the Chicago area by advancing the understanding and profile of Asian and Asian American cultures through the traditional and contemporary cultural arts. AIRMW is dedicated to creating productive relationships with artists, community and institutions in order to produce high quality arts programs that accurately reflect the multi-cultural, multi-ethnic reality of Chicago and the nation. Visit www.airmw.org for more information.
Tsukasa Taiko is a program of Asian Improv aRts Midwest and the Japanese American Service Committee of Chicago and is supported in part by
the Illinois Arts Council,
the MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture at the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation,
the Alphawood Foundation,
Corbett, Duncan & Hubly pc,
and The Joyce Foundation.
Our annual Taiko Legacy show is hosted by the Edlis Neeson Theater at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.