Grand Master Seido Kobayashi – Oedo Sukeroku Taiko
Founder of Sukeroku Taiko, the first professional Taiko team in Tokyo, Grand Master of Sukeroku-ryu school.
In 1956, Seido Kobayashi, born in Hongo, the Tokyo downtown area, first played Bon-taiko drum in the year of twelve. He won the first prize at the first Bon-taiko contest held at Yushima Tenjin Shrine.
Learning Kabuki bayashi basics and built up skills, he and his fellow taiko players started the first taiko-only ensemble Sukeroku Taiko in 1968 in Tokyo. Since the establishment of the group, the sukeroku style has spread throughout Japan and overseas and influenced on many taiko groups all over Japan and the world. Seiichi Tanaka and Kenny Endo also spent certain period of time with Kobayashi. To further pursue a perfect blend of stage entertainment and traditional taiko, Kobayashi left Sukeroku Taiko and established "Oedo Sukeroku Taiko in 1982. The group has performed in more than 35 countries such as the United States, Indonesia, Singapore and in annual tours to France and European countries. They are in high demands for various stage productions. They have appeared at the one of the biggest music festivals in Europe like Paleo Festival in Nyon, Switzerland and Fitz Gelard Jazz Festival in Geneve. Now they have Oedo Sukeroku ryu(school) groups in and our Japan who eager to take over their beautiful and dynamic naname(slant) style drumming techniques.
Grand master Seiko Kobayashi cerebrated the 60th anniversary of his taiko career and held the memorial concert at the National Theater of Japan in 2016. He remains an active taiko drummer and a teacher.
Grand Master Seiichi Tanaka – San Francisco Taiko Dojo
Tanaka, the son of a professional baseball player, was born in Tokyo, Japan in 1943. He spent his youth in a prefecture near Nagano and, like his father, grew into a skilled athlete. He attended the Chiba University of Commerce on a baseball scholarship, graduating in 1964. Shortly thereafter, he visited the United States for the first time.
It was on a visit to the Cherry Blossom Festival in San Francisco’s Japantown in 1967 that Tanaka discovered his calling. He was surprised to learn that there was no taiko drumming at the festival in San Francisco or for that matter, anywhere else during his travels within the United States. “In Japan, taiko drumming is played at practically every occasion—especially special ones like festivals or ceremonies” he said. Tanaka immediately concluded that he wanted to introduce this powerful musical art form to the United States, and he dreamed that the word “taiko,” like “karate” and “sushi,” would one day become an integral part of the American vocabulary.
Tanaka Sensei currently continues teaching hundreds of students in the art of taiko and lives in San Francisco with his wife, fine artist Kumiko, and son Ryuma, the general manager of San Francisco Taiko Dojo.
Nosuke Akiyama – San Francisco Taiko dojo
The Shishi is a mystical beast that eats the bad luck of anyone it bites. Nosuke Akiyama has been San Francisco Taiko Dojo’s lion dancer since its inception and will teach on the history and traditions of Shishi Mai. This workshop will focus on dance and movement of lion dancing while understanding its direct connection to the music of the Mai dance.
Kenny Endo – Kenny Endo Taiko Ensemble
One of the leading personas in contemporary percussion and rhythm, KENNY ENDO is at the vanguard of the taiko genre, continuing to carve new territory in this Japanese style of drumming. A performer, composer, and teacher of taiko, he has received numerous awards and accolades, including very special recognition in Japan—he was the first foreigner to be honored with a “natori,” a stage name, in Japanese classical drumming. Kenny Endo was a featured artist on the PBS special “Spirit of Taiko” in 2005. He has performed for such musicians as the late Michael Jackson and Prince, opened for The Who, performed a duet with singer Bobby McFerrin, and is featured on the soundtracks for Kayo Hatta’s film “Picture Bride”, Francis Ford Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now”, and recently worked on James Cameron’s “Avatar”. He has had a day named for him in by the Mayor of Honolulu “Kenny Endo Day”, and was honored by the National Endowment for the Arts for American Masterpieces. He has released 9 CDs of original music. Kenny is a consummate artist, blending Japanese taiko with rhythms influenced by his jazz background and by collaborations with artists from around the world. Kenny’s taiko are provided courtesy of Miyamoto Unosuke Shoten. website: www.kennyendo.com
koji Nakamura – Makoto Taiko
Koji Nakamura was born in 1960 in Hyogo, Japan, and is currently the head instructor of Makoto Taiko.
In 1982, Mr. Nakamura joined Ondekoza, one of the most well-known professional taiko groups in Japan, to learn drumming. While a member of this group, he participated in their European tour through France, Holland, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium and England in 1983. He also participated in the Montor Jazz Festival in Switzerland and the Edinburg Festival in England.
In 1999, Mr. Nakamura performed at the Parliament of World Religions and participated in the World Festival of Sacred Music promoted by His Holiness Dalai Lama XIV in South Africa. In 2000, he performed at the opening ceremony of the Millennium World Peace Summit at the United Nations Headquarters in New Nork. He later won the 2007 Grammy® Award for “Best New Age Album” along with Paul Winter for their latest album, “Crestone.”
Mr. Nakamura currently lives in Pasadena and is the Head Instructor of Makoto Taiko, a Pasadena-based taiko drumming ensemble. He regularly visits local schools such as the Pasadena Waldorf School to teach taiko drumming to the students. Mr. Nakamura also travels frequently throughout the U.S. to hold workshops in places such as Tucson, AZ; Crestone, CO and Catskill Mountain, NY.
Through his activities, Mr. Nakamura hopes to spread awareness and appreciation of taiko drumming as a means of establishing a common passion and understanding among peoples of different backgrounds.
Mizuho Zako – Oedo Sukeroku Taiko
Professional Japanese Drum player, Choreographer, Instructor Mizuho Zako is one of the two leading performers and instructors of the internationally renowned professional taiko group, Oedo Sukeroku Taiko in Tokyo, Japan. Oedo Sukeroku Taiko was founded by Grand Master Seiko Kobayashi in 1982. She joined the group in 1992 and has performed as a professional taiko player with the group in Japan and worldwide since 1997. As a instructor, she has conducted more than 100 workshops for taiko groups and individuals both Japanese and English.
She specializes in performing and teaching Sukeroku’s nannie style(slant style) on Chu-taiko and shine-taiko. Although she is probably best known for her tenacious “Yodan-uchi” solo featuring her signature cartwheel moves, her performance is so much more. Her sounds are powerful and movements graceful, made possible by her amazing flexibility and physical strength.
As a composer and choreographer, she released “Izayoi” , “Michiyuki” and “Mutsura-boshi”. Her Pieces are uniquely beautiful with the influence of ballet and classical Japanese dance & music.
Kaoru Watanabe – Kenny Endo Taiko Ensemble
Kaoru Watanabe is a Brooklyn-based composer and musician specializing in the Japanese taiko drum and shinobue flutes. For decades, he has integrated the sounds of old Japan with structured improvisations and contemporary compositional techniques. He has collaborated with such luminaries as National Living Treasure Bando Tamasaburo, Jason Moran, So Percussion, Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble, calligrapher Kakinuma Koji and visual artist Simone Leigh. He has performed his compositions at such prestigious venues as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, The Kennedy Center, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Whitney Museum and Kabukiza. He has recently released an album called Néo.
Sumie Kaneko – Kenny Endo Taiko Ensemble
Japanese Koto & Shamisen Player, Singer Songwriter Sumie (Sumi-é) Kaneko has been recognized as a pioneer by her uniquely chromatic use of the instruments. Her project that is blending Japanese traditional elements into jazz improvisation is well received over the world.
She started playing Koto when she was at five, next year she was broadcasted by NHK. In 1995, Sumie won in Takasaki International Competition in Koto performance. She studied Japanese traditional music at Tokyo University of The Arts then studied Jazz vocal at Berklee College of Music in 2006. Performance highlights includes: Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, TED talk, Getty Center, Boston Ballet, Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Project, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, etc.. She has also gave workshops at academic scenes such as Harvard Univ., Princeton Univ., Wellesley College, Berklee College of Music and many more and in 2014, her group was invited to the Washington DC Jazz Festival that is co-sponsored by the Embassy of Japan and in 2015 April, soon after they made sold-out debut at Blue Note NY that is the most well known jazz club in the world. In addition, she was the first Shamisen player of a winner of Pulitzer Prize Paula Vogel’s “The Long Christmas Ride Home”, and has collaborated with many of world instrumentalists such as Kenny Endo, Kaoru Watanabe, On Ensemble, Yumiko Tanaka etc. and also painters, dancers and calligraphers. International tours: Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, Jamaica (by Japan Foundation NY), Bangladesh, Pakistan and many of domestic tours including Puerto Rico. In June 2015, she is invited to Islamabad, Karachi, Dhaka by the Embassy of Japan. The second album “Dead of the Night” has been released in June 2016.
GONNA – wadaiko & marimba
GONNA was started in Nagoya in 2003. Pursuing Wadaiko as world music led to the very unique ensemble style with the marimba and the Wadaikos. GONNA excels all other groups in the profound harmonies with various percussion instruments and the advanced technique of the ensemble. GONNA’ s performing style attempts to move beyond restraints. We provide not only a two-hour concert in an over thousand-seat concert hall, but also a small live performance in a cafe or in the precincts of a temple, with our various formation patterns. GONNA’ s music can never be categorized into one genre. We have very wide repertories such as “traditional Wadaiko pieces,” “sophisticated original pieces” and “contemporary classical pieces.” This must be a reason why we have been gaining a broad base of support. We believe that music has the power to encourage people and to make our lives enriched. We hope our music may be a means of touching people’ s hearts.
Makoto Taiko seeks to unite people of all backgrounds in our local and global communities by preserving and sharing the spirit of Japanese taiko drumming through performances, classes, and other charitable educational activities. Through precisely articulated rhythm and movements, Makoto Taiko’s drumming provides a spiritually powerful experience that, despite its Japanese origin, transcends cultures.
Founded in 1999 in Pasadena, Makoto Taiko offers low-cost weekly classes to taiko players from beginner to artist. Over the years, Makoto Taiko broadened its membership and performed at a wide range of charitable and community organizations and educational institutions. Makoto Taiko's membership of approximately 70 students and classes are open to anyone. Makoto Taiko's current members are from a diverse group of ethnicities and ages living in the Los Angeles, Orange and Ventura County areas.
In 2014, seeking to broaden its impact, Makoto Taiko secured 501(c)(3) nonprofit status whose nonprofit purpose is educational and charitable. Makoto Taiko performs at an ever-expanding list of events and venues throughout the U.S. including the 2013 Special Olympics Los Angeles and San Gabriel Regional Games, the 2015 Japan Fair and 2014-2016 Nisei Week Taiko Gatherings in Little Tokyo, the Los Angeles Marathon and more. Makoto Taiko has also collaborated with acclaimed artists including Grammy® Award-winner Paul Winter and Grand Taiko Master Seiichi Tanaka. For more information, visit www.makototaiko.org.
Julia Misawa – Boulder Taiko Ensemble
Julia Misawa, the founder, art director and instructor of Boulder Taiko Hibiki. Julia Misawa began her Taiko studies when she was studying International Business, Graphic Design and Web Design at college. She has studied Japanese traditional Taiko for about ten years under the guidance of Taiko Master Seiichi Tanaka. It was Sensei Tanaka who first brought Taiko to the U.S. about 49 years ago when he started the San Francisco Taiko Dojo in San Francisco.
While studying with Sensei Tanaka, Julia assisted with children’s and adults’ classes and she also served as his assistant for the weekend open classes. Besides her own practice, she coached and directed a separate taiko group and also assisted workshop for mentally disabled children at the Napa Valley Children’s Hospital in Napa, California. As one of San Francisco Taiko’s pro-team members, Julia had the great experience of traveling and performing all over America. She was very impressed, and will never be able to forget the performance at New York City’s Carnegie Hall. Other memorable performances include the Annual International Taiko Festival in Berkley, California, the Cherry Blossom Festival in San Francisco, California, the Chinese New Year’s parade, and the Black Ships Festival in New-port Beach, Rhode Island, among others. Another unforgettable experience was that recording the DVD at a studio owned by world famous movie director George Lucas.
Boulder Taiko’s teaching method and essence are based upon the four basic elements, not only the skillful playing of the percussion insturment, taught at the San Francisco Taiko Dojo: Mind, Skill, Body, and Manner in the sprit of complete respect and unity among people. All four elements are essential and should be studied equally so that they all become single form. For beginning students, the basic grip, stance and movement are learned prior to practicing fundamental drills designed to learn basic drumming techniques. Each class starts with a routine of full body stretches and the use of voice is practiced throughout each class. One method unique to Sensei Tanaka’s teaching style is that “KUCHI-SHOKA”; students “sing” the words and rhythms without the music score so that the entire body, not just the brain, learns the rhythm.
Boulder Taiko Hibiki brings the art and discipline of Taiko to all people, regardless of their race, religion, or political affiliation to promote a stronger, kinder, more compassionate and interconnected community. Last but not least, it includes the pure enjoyment of playing taiko from bottom of the heart.
David Wheeler – Boulder Taiko Ensemble
David Kansuke Wheeler lived in Japan for twenty years studying and performing the shakuhachi with some of Japan’s finest traditional masters and ensembles, beginning in Tokyo in 1977 with Kansuke Kawase (now Junsuke Kawase III), head of the Chikuyu-sha school of Kinko Style classical shakuhachi performance. In 2008, in recognition of three decades of international performing, production and teaching activities, he received the performance name Kansuke II. Kansuke’s professional career started in Tokyo, and has since taken him all over Japan and around the world. He has had a central role in every major world shakuhachi festival since the first in Bisei, Japan in 1994, and including Boulder (98), Tokyo (02), New York (04) and Sidney (08). Since 1999, he has annually presented the Shakuhachi Summer Camp of the Rockies, featuring faculty from Japan, Australia and the US, and attended by students from North America and Japan. His work aims at crossing musical and artistic barriers both within and outside of the Japanese traditional performing arts world. Wheeler was a Japan Foundation Lecturer of World Music at CU Boulder in 1997-98, and has also lectured at Naropa University. He now teaches and performs nationally and internationally from a base in Boulder.
Anthony Salvo – Boulder Taiko Ensemble
Anthony has been fortunate to spend the last thirty years as a professional musician. He began studying violin at the age of 6, led his youth orchestra, and spent summers at Tanglewood music camp. He completed his college studies at New England Conservatory and Berklee School of Music in Boston.
Finding that he did not want to pursue the path of a concert violinist, he spent his 20’s touring and performing in several bands with Afro-Cuban and Latin roots. In his 30’s, he established a regular teaching practice and expanded his exploration of the violin in history and world music including Klezmer & Indian Carnatic forms. He continued to tour and perform and was also in high demand as a studio musician recording for several hundred musicians, filmmakers, theater groups, and others looking for someone to express their vision of the perfect violin part for their project.
His 40’s were a time of clarifying his own vision. He went back to his roots in some ways to co-found the Free Range String Quartet; an completely improvisational ensemble. He also founded the gypsy jazz group Sacrebleu based on his new found love of this musical style. He studied with violin pedagogues Darol Anger and Paul Anastasio as he explored this genre. He has a full teaching studio in the Suzuki tradition and gained certification for his teaching through one of the founding luminaries of this tradition in America, Bill Starr. He also spent 5 years as band director for two private Waldorf schools in Boulder, CO. He composed, produced & recorded his first solo album, Finding Sanctuary, inspired by the more internal experience of music and his work with renown pedagogue, Paul Oertel.
Anthony continues to study, practice and play as he evolves as a teacher and musician. He regularly performs with the Denver based gypsy jazz ensemble, Gypsy Swing Revue and was featured on a recent tour of European jazz great, Joscho Stephan. He is currently working on several collaborative jazz projects and building material for his next album.