by Gail Dee of We Want Music Without Borders
When we think of drumming, we tend to think of the djembes and congas of the African diaspora not Asia. Outstanding African and Latin music come often to Chicago but not Asian music. Those preconceived ideas fled in the face of the explosive Taiko drums in Maurer Hall last night at the free performance for the World Music Wednesday at Old Town School of Folk Music. Old Town presented “Rotations” a spirited, colorful and surprising show with Chicago Japanese Taiko drumming group Ho Etsu Taiko in collaboration with Los Angeles professional taiko On Ensemble. Some Taiko drum performances are one dimensional. Not “Rotations”. While we enjoyed the traditional pounding Taiko drumming throughout the performance the show was filled with other musical influences. One of the founding members of On Ensemble, Shoji Kameda is a Grammy nominated musician, composer and producer who started playing taiko at the age of 8. Throughout the show we were treated to some of his other studies which ranged from Indonesia to Mongolia. Delicate lyrical songs from On Ensemble’s other co founder Masato Baba (who has played Taiko with Shoji since he was six!) on a Japanese shinobue (flute) as well as featured special guest Sumie Kaneko’s jazzy vocals; stringed koto and Shamisen (banjo like) playing gave the concert changes in tempo and mood. Western contemporary beats from hip hop and rock n’ roll rhythms also drove the music and I recognized the monkey chant of the Ketak from Bali on one piece. You can see below in my short clip. Towards the end of the show, Shoji stunned the audience with an outstanding Mongolian overtone throat singing. Although the concert hall was filled — I wish the audience had been overflowing into the street last night. YOU have the chance to see them this weekend Oct. 3 and Oct. 4 at the Athenaeum It’s definitely a We Want Music Without Borders HIGHLY RECOMMEND. Ticket info here: tickets available through athenaeumtheatre.org/rotations or box office at 773-935-6875
My short clip from last night-
A video from On Ensemble’s website of Yamasong with the overtone throat singing.
Gail Dee is a freelance writer with articles appearing in Chicagomusic.org and Newcity Music. She also created a large 2500+ member facebook We Want Music Without Borders where she posts daily updates on live music in Chicago and beyond.
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