Loading...
Home 2017-10-18T01:17:16+00:00

Tatsu Aoki

is a leading advocate for the Asian American community, as well as a prolific composer and performer of traditional and experimental music forms, a filmmaker, and an educator. Born in Tokyo, 1957 into the Toyoakimoto artisan family, a traditional house for training and booking agents for geisha. Aoki was part of his family’s performance crew from the age of four. In the late 1960s, he shifted his energies from the traditional to American pop and experimental music. By the early 1970s, Aoki was active in Tokyo’s underground arts movement as a member of Gintenkai, an experimental ensemble that combined traditional music and new Western forms.

In 1977, Aoki left Tokyo and is now one of the most in-demand performers of bass, shamisen, and taiko, contributing more than ninety recording projects and touring internationally during the last thirty-five years. Aoki is Founder and Artistic Director of Chicago Asian American Jazz Festival, which celebrated its twentieth year in 2015.

Read More

Aoki was named one of 2001’s “Chicagoans of the year” by Chicago Tribune for his music for his cross cultural music and has performed with masters such as Roscoe Mitchell, Don Moye, pipa virtuoso Wu Man, and the late Chicago legend Fred Anderson. Aoki’s suite ROOTED: Origins of Now, a four-movement suite for big band, premiered in 2001 at Ping Tom Memorial Park, and was performed at the Chicago Jazz Festival and at MCA Stage as part of Chicago Asian American Jazz Festival. Additional notable releases include Basser Live (1999) and Basser Live II (2005), recorded live at MCA Stage; The MIYUMI Project (2000), Symphony of Two Cities (2002), and Posture of Reality with Wu Man (2003). The Asian American Institute awarded Aoki the Milestone Award in 2007 for his contribution to Chicago-area arts. In 2010, he received the Japan America Society of Chicago’s Cultural Achievement Award as well as a 3Arts Artist Award. He received the  “Living in our Culture” award by the Japanese American Service Committee in 2014 and the Jazz Heroes’ Award by the National Jazz Journalist Association in 2015. In 2016, his Miyumi Project ensemble was the official musical presenter for the unveiling of Yoko Ono’s “SKYLANDING” installation in Chicago’s own Jackson Park; which also resulted in the group recording the “SKYLANDING” album produced by Yoko Ono.  In 2017 this year, the group contributed their unique vibe to the soundtrack of the film documentary addressing the Japanese American Incarceration, “And Then They Came for Us”.  Additional accolades include Aoki’s own film “LIGHT”, which he directed, which was awarded the Best Experimental Film in the 2017 Canada International Film Festival. And most recently, he was selected by the Asian American Advisory Council of Illinois and received the Community Service Award from the Illinois Secretary of State; and he also received the prestigious Commendation for the Promotion of Japanese Culture from the Foreign Ministry in Japan, which is given to individuals with outstanding achievements in international fields, and acknowledges the recipients’ contributions to the promotion of friendship between Japan and other countries.

“Aoki (…) has not been alone in championing the exotic interweaving of Asian music and American jazz. But thanks to a relentless work ethic and a visionary’s approach to the art of improvisation, he surely has been the most influential.”
– Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune

Upcoming Events

TATSU AOKI’S TAIKO LEGACY 14 & REDUCTION 5
TSUKASA TAIKO 21ST YEAR JOURNEY

December 16-17, 2017 || Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

The unmistakable sound of Taiko (Japanese drums), typically heard only at seasonal festivals and temples in Japan, is elevated to a new level on the MCA Stage this year. The fourteenth anniversary performance features two distinct programs and a very special workshop.

TICKETS FOR ALL THREE EVENTS CURRENTLY ON SALE: WWW.TAIKOLEGACY14.COM

General: $20 // Seniors: $15 // Children under 12: $15

TAIKO LEGACY 14  •  Sunday, December 17  •  2:00pm 

Celebrating over two decades of artist directed performance, Taiko Legacy is a perennial commemoration bringing together professional contemporary and classical performers alongside enduring community members to produce one of the largest Taiko drumming concerts in the Midwest. The melodic depths of the taiko ensemble performance are explored by multigenerational ensemble Tsukasa Taiko,  using original compositions and arrangements from a broad range of musical styles including: ozashiki (geisha chamber music), minyo (folk music), ohayashi (classical/folk/theater music), and matsuri taiko (festival music).

This year’s featured guests include Melody Takata and the Gen Ensemble of San Francisco, classical music grandmasters from Japan, Chizuru Kineya, and Takane Umeya, with local grandmaster Yoshinojo Fujima.

BUY TICKETS AT: TaikoLegacy14.BrownPaperTickets.com

REDUCTION 5 •  Saturday, December 16  •  7:30pm

Directed by Tatsu Aoki, Reduction is a creative response to the popularity of mainstream taiko drumming, which is stripped of its musical and theatrical elements. This year, Reduction will feature a rare and special debut appearance of traditional Kuruma Ningyo puppetmaster : Koryu Nishikawa V. Performances will incorporate nihon buyo (Japanese classical dance) movements from grandmaster Shunojo Fujima, appearing in inventive combinations accompanied by jazz greats Hamid Drake, Michael Zerang, Nicole Mitchell, Coco Elysses, JoVia Armstrong, Douglas Ewart, and classical music masters Chizuru Kineya, Takane Umeya…and many others.

BUY TICKETS AT: TLreduction5.BrownPaperTickets.com

Special Workshop: The KURUMA NINGYO  •  Sunday, December 17  •  6:00pm

Limited Space – Register soon! Registration: $25

BUY TICKETS AT: TLkurumaningyo.BrownPaperTickets.com

Nearly 150 years ago in the late Edo Period, Nishikawa Koryu I created Hachioji Kuruma Ningyo, a form of puppet theatre. The puppeteer sits on a small seat with roller wheels (rokuro kuruma) when operating the puppet (ningyo). This strategy allows the puppet and puppeteer to move in unison, providing greater flexibility and realism.

Nishikawa Koryu became the 5th Headmaster (iemoto) of the Kuruma Ningyo troupe in 1996, and has been studying Kuruma Ningyo puppetry since he was 13 years old. For more than fifteen years, he has been performing regularly throughout Japan and the world. Each year, he spends around 100 days on performance tours including the Czech Republic, Sweden, Saipan, Brazil, in far eastern Russia, and the United States.

Taiko Legacy 14 and Reduction 5

Tsukasa Taiko 21th year Journey

Tatsu Aoki’s Taiko Legacy and Reduction

The unmistakable sound of Taiko (Japanese drums), typically heard only at seasonal festivals and temples in Japan, is elevated to a new level on the MCA Stage again. The fourteenth anniversary performance features two distinct programs.

Taiko Legacy 14
Sun, Dec 17 @ 2:00 pm

Celebrating over two decades of artist directed performance, Taiko Legacy is a perennial commemoration bringing together professional contemporary and classical performers alongside enduring community members to produce one of the largest Taiko drumming concerts in the Midwest.   The multigenerational ensemble Tsukasa Taiko anchors the traditional musical relationship between shamisen, dance, and taiko. The melodic depths of the taiko ensemble performance are explored using original compositions and arrangements from a broad range of musical styles including: ozashiki (geisha chamber music), minyo(folk music), ohayashi (classical/folk/theater music), and matsuri taiko (festival taiko music).  This year’s featured guests include Melody Takata and the Gen Ensemble of San Francisco, classical music grandmasters from Japan, Chizuru Kineya, and Takane Umeya, with local grandmaster Yoshinojo Fujima.

Reduction 5
Sat, Dec 16, 7:30 pm

Directed by Tatsu Aoki, Reduction is a creative response to the popularity of mainstream taiko drumming, which is stripped of its musical and theatrical elements. This year, Reduction will feature a rare and special debut appearance of traditional Kuruma Ningyo puppetmaster : Koryu Nishikawa V. Performances will incorporate the  nihon buyo (Japanese classical dance) movements from grandmaster Shunojo Fujima,  as well the stylizations of contemporary percussionists, JoVIa Armstrong, Coco Elysses , Jamie Kempkers appearing in inventive combinations accompanied by jazz greats Hamid Drake, Michael Zerang, Nicole Mitchell and classical music masters Chizuru Kineya, Takane Umeya…and many others.

Sun Dec 17 at 6 pm , $25 registration.

Special workshop: the KURUMA NINGYO

Nearly 150 years ago in the late Edo Period, Nishikawa Koryu I created Hachioji Kuruma Ningyo, a form of puppet theatre.  It is called “Kuruma Ningyo” because the puppeteer sits on a small seat with roller wheels (rokuro kuruma) when operating the puppet (ningyo).  This small seat allows the puppet and puppeteer to move in unison, providing greater flexibility and realism; distinguishing it from Bunraku, in which three people operate a single puppet.

Nishikawa Koryu became the 5th Headmaster (iemoto) of the Kuruma Ningyo troupe in 1996, and has been studying Kuruma Ningyo puppetry since he was 13 years old.

For more than fifteen years, Nishikawa Koryu V has been performing regularly throughout Japan and the world. Each year, he spends around 100 days on performance tours including the Czech Republic, Sweden, Saipan, Brazil, in far eastern Russia, and the United States.

Taiko Legacy / Reduction 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 & Culture at The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, the Alphawood Foundation, CDH. P.C, JCCC Foundation, Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events, Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, The Joyce Foundation and National Endowment for the Arts 

Trio WAZ CD RELEASE PERFORMANCE

Join Trio WAZ at Constellation, on Saturday December 9, 2017, 8:30 p.m.

For over twenty years, Trio WAZ has performed together, making it one of the longest standing experimental music trios in Chicago.  Over 100 hours of recordings, but none have been released until now.  Trio WAZ is an eclectic experimental group made up of the time honored members:  Edward Wilkerson Jr. is one of the great saxophone and clarinet players on the Chicago scene, TatsuAoki is a prolific artist, composer, musician, educator, and consummate bassist and Shamisen Lute player, and Michael Zerang is a percussionist focusing extensively on improvised music, free jazz, contemporary composition, puppet theater, experimental theater, and international musical forms.  Each brings their own unique armada of musical conquests and distinctive dispositions to interplay and braid an incomparable synthesis of musical actuality.

http://www.constellation-chicago.com/event/1579334
https://www.ticketfly.com/purchase/event/1579334?utm_medium=bks
https://www.facebook.com/events/1148234288643326/

Jonathan Chen and Tatsu Aoki

Jonathan Chen & Tatsu Aoki, combine to form their eclectic duo for the opening set of the final day of the CAAJF.

“Asian American Experimentalism” is the event that extrapolates the unique concept experience created during Tatsu Aoki’s collaboration with the Jonathen Chen Orchestra. It is an electro-acoustic soundscape distilled from the reality of the Asian-American existence.

Composer, improviser, and sound artist, Jonathan Chen, creates work through either conceptual foci or through experimentation with materials. His work for electronics often consist of thick layers of fluctuating sounds produced through multiple feedback systems, and at other times a more simple approach such as his installation Amplified (2010), which only involves the light amplification of a person’s voice. As a violinist and violist his improvisational work often emphasizes timbre rather than pitch, either drawing from a wide palette, or honing in on a single sound. Chen has a PhD in Electronic Arts from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York; a Master of Arts in Music Composition from Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT; and a Master of Music in Violin Performance from Northwestern University, Evanston, IL. His work has been published by Leonardo Music Journal (MIT Press), the Deep Listening Institute, Asian Improv Records, Interval, and Striking Mechanism, among others.

Tatsu Aoki is a leading advocate for the Asian American community, as well as a prolific composer and performer of traditional and experimental music forms, a filmmaker, and an educator. Born in Tokyo, 1957 into the Toyoakimoto artisan family, a traditional house for training and booking agents for geisha. Aoki was part of his family’s performance crew from the age of four. In the late 1960s, he shifted his energies from the traditional to American pop and experimental music. By the early 1970s, Aoki was active in Tokyo’s underground arts movement as a member of Gintenkai, an experimental ensemble that combined traditional music and new Western forms.

In 1977, Aoki left Tokyo and is now one of the most in-demand performers of bass, shamisen, and taiko, contributing more than ninety recording projects and touring internationally during the last thirty-five years. Aoki is the Founder and Artistic Director of Chicago Asian American Jazz Festival.

Visit: Elastic Arts

$10

Tuesdays on the Terrace: Tatsu Aoki’s The MIYUMI Project

Tatsu Aoki’s ensemble The MIYUMI Project, is one of the longest-standing amalgams of Chicago’s avant-garde jazz and Japanese traditional music. Their presentation draws upon aesthetics rooted in the Japanese tradition. Japanese classical dance and Japanese taiko drumming permeate throughout the laboratory of sound where he explores the nexus of cultures: Asian and American, Japanese and African, past and present. The improvised compositions provide a conceptual framework for each band member to interpret, which in turn coalesce and transform into a vast contemporary expanse of musical immersion for the audience. The MIYUMI Project was chosen as the official musical presenters for Yoko Ono’s installation project here in Chicago and resulted in the Ono-produced album SKYLANDING in 2016. Each successive grouping of MIYUMI Project musicians over the past two decades have contributed to the unique blending of modern application with traditional sensibility. The final result is a continuous evolution of a “live and raw” musical happening. The current Miyumi Project members are: Tatsu Aoki, Mwata Bowden, Coco Elysses, Avreeayl Ra, Edward Wilkerson, Jaime Kempkers, and KIOTO.

In case of rain, the event takes place inside the MCA’s Kovler Atrium.

FREE