Category Archives: Taiko

Free 3-day festival – The Tadaima Convergence – creativity and diversity

July 22/23/24 – Fri., Sat., Sun., 5 pm


Russel Baba, Jeanne Mercer, Masato Baba, Gary Fitzgerald, Michelee Fujii, Toru Watanabe, & Kenji Kato
Sponsored by Shasta Taiko
Entrance is free
Donations accepted to support & benefit Pops
The Tadaima Convergence to Benefit Pops
Shasta Taiko leaders, Russel Baba and Jeanne Mercer, are hosting a free three day mini-music festival, “The Tadaima Convergence – creativity & diversity,” at Pops Performing Arts & Cultural Center in Dunsmuir, CA,, the weekend of July 22/23/24, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, starting at 5 pm and continuing into the evening.
“Shasta Taiko’s goals are to expose not only taiko (Japanese drum), but a wide variety of music, perspectives, creativity, and cultures.  A free three day festival provides an opportunity to experience the extraordinary talents of Tadaima’s artists.  By making a free event, we want to attract and expose more people, including families and children, to an expanded  view of music and art.” said Baba.
The free three day festival is sponsored by Shasta Taiko and is a benefit for Pops.  Donations will be accepted at the festival in support of the Center.  Shasta Taiko and Pops have similar goals in supporting music and the arts, and Pops has created a wonderful intimate space for performances.
Russel added, “We’re hoping to perform in the Pops courtyard, outside.  A late summer afternoon or an early evening performance are our visions, barring any wildfires or smoke.  There is the option to move indoors if needed.  I hope folks will feel free to come and go if they choose to, even as we perform.  Some Asian theater traditions like Indonesian Gamalan or Japanese Kabuki, have long plays where people may leave, take breaks, and come back, all while the performances are still happening.  Gamalan may start in the evening and end with the sunrise.  I want to create that type of atmosphere during the three day music festival.”
“Tadaima” (now, at present; I am here!  I am home) is the traditional Japanese announcement when one comes home.  Music is “home” for the artists of Tadaima.
Russel Baba is known for his originality in playing and composing for saxophones, flutes, and taiko.  He has toured and recorded with jazz legends drummer Eddie Moore, violinist Michael White, and pianist Andrew Hill, and taiko with Grand Master Seiichi Tanaka and Jeanne Mercer.
“Russel Baba has managed to endow his alto saxophone with the timbre and flexibility of a violin.  His new sound is extraordinarily beautiful.”  CODA Magazine
Jeanne Mercer is a highly respected pioneering American taiko artist.  She is noted for impeccable skill, touch, and sensitivity as well as writing challenging and creative compositions for taiko.  Mercer toured and recorded with Seiichi Tanaka and contributed to movie soundtracks “Star Wars” and “Apocalypse Now.”
Jeanne Mercer and Russel Baba founded Shasta Taiko and presented ShastaYama from 2005 to 2016  in Mount Shasta, the largest outdoor taiko festival in America.
Masato Baba will join his parents playing taiko, fue (Japanese flute), and percussion.  Masato is a leading American taiko artist who is creating new directions for taiko as Artistic Director of Los Angeles based TaikoProject and as a member of On Ensemble.  Both ensembles and Masato have made several appearances at ShastaYama as featured guest artists.
Gary Fitzgerald is known for a dynamic and original bass sound.  Gary toured and recorded with Russel Baba, Eddie Moore, Michael White, and pianist Ron Hart and performed with trumpeter Eddie Henderson and guitarist Bill deArango.  He has performed twice at ShastaYama with Tadaima.
ShastaYama favorites, Michelle Fujii and Toru Watanabe, will join “The Tadaima Convergence” adding their unique taiko and dance to the event.  Michelle’s interest in taiko and dance started as a youth with San Jose Taiko.  She was awarded a Bunka-cho Fellowship to study Japanese folk dance with Master Shehei Kiuchi and served as the Artistic Director of Portland Taiko in Oregon.
Toru Watanabe’s dynamic presence as a dancer and choreographer were developed as a child touring with Japanese folk dance troupe, Warabi-za.  With wife Michelle Fujii, they formed a new Portland taiko ensemble, Unit Souzou.  Toru and Michelle are keeping traditional folk dance and taiko alive while exploring new possibilities as modern performing artists.
Joining Tadaima for two evenings, Saturday and Sunday, will be drummer Kenji Kato from Redding.  Kenji received the Wayne Shorter and Tony Willians awards from the Berklee College of Music.  He has performed with Gary Burton, Roy Hargrove, Delfeayo Marsalis, Warren Hill, Mark Whitfield, Antonio Hart, and Merle Haggard.  Kato is recognized for his studio work and is gaining a reputation as an outstanding teacher.
All of the artists have honed skills in the traditions.  All continue to create and explore other ways of expression, seeing, hearing, and living.  Tadaima – now, present; I’m here!  I’m home!
“The Tadaima Convergence – creativity and diversity” is sponsored by Shasta Taiko, a nonprofit arts organization and is a free event to the public and a benefit for Pops Performing Arts & Cultural Center.  The Festival is a wonderful opportunity to expand experiences and support Pops in the spirit of Louis Armstrong’s legacy of jazz, the arts, and liberation.
Pops Performing Arts & Cultural Center, 5819 Sacramento Ave., Dunsmuir, CA

Shasta Taiko Presents Shasta Family

Screen Shot 2018-07-14 at 11.38.03 AMShasta Taiko will present a mini formal performance at POPS Performing Arts & Cultural Center, 5819 Sacramento Avenue in Dunsmuir, Saturday, July 28 at 7 pm.  Featured will be guest artists Masato Baba, son of Shasta Taiko leaders Russel Baba and Jeanne Mercer, and his wife Courtney Deguchi.

Masato and Courtney will also perform with Shasta Taiko and join Tadaima’s set with Russel on winds and Jeanne playing taiko.

With the intimate atmosphere at POPS, Shasta Taiko will perform compositions that focuses on refinement and subtlety.  Fun and exciting festival style taiko soloing will also be featured.

Tadaima is a creative music ensemble that performs original compositions influenced by jazz, world, classical, and new music.

Masato Baba has evolved into one of taiko’s leading artists.  He is the Artistic Director of award winning Los Angeles based TaikoProject and a member of cutting edge On Ensemble.  Shasta Taiko has presented both groups several times to the Mount Shasta community.

Courtney Deguchi is a performing member of TaikoProject and leads community taiko classes for children and adults in LA.  She is an emerging taiko artist and singer, and with Masato, is spreading taiko’s sound around the world.

A charge of $10 is being asked at the door.  Young people 16 years and under are Free.

“Our goal has always been to expose taiko to the community and the world.” says Russel.

Shasta Taiko is a non-profit arts organization 501 (c) (3).

For more information:

Mon Sep 11, 2017, 7 pm – Taiko – On Ensemble

Pops FlyerOn Ensemble
Monday, September 11, 7:00 pm,
Established in 2002 On Ensemble is one of the most respected ensembles in the taiko (Japanese drumming) world. Led by childhood friends Shoji Kameda and Masato (Maz) Baba, On Ensemble is recognized for infusing the powerful rhythms of taiko with a wide range of musical influences from jazz and rock to central asian overtone singing. Their fearless musical exploration has expanded the artistic range of the taiko and has taken these ancient instruments into new realms. The group’s unique sound has been praised as “completely original and brilliantly conceived.” Modern Drummer magazine calls On Ensemble “an exciting taiko ensemble looking at new ways to apply traditional Japanese drums.” On Ensemble was the first American taiko group to be invited to perform at the National Theater of Japan for the prestigious Nihon no Taiko concert series.

Wed Dec 28 7 pm, Winds and Taiko

screen-shot-2016-12-10-at-2-00-27-pmRussel Baba and Jeanne Mercer Perform Winds and Taiko – Celebrating Year’s End and the Beginning of the New at POPS

Russel Baba and Jeanne Mercer are taiko artists and founders of Mount Shasta’s Shasta Taiko.  They will play together for a special “Tadaima” performance of “taiko kaze”-  original music for woodwinds and taiko at POPS Performing Arts and Cultural Center, 5819 Sacramento Ave., in Dunsmuir on Wednesday, December 28, 2016 starting at 7 pm.

Joining them on taiko and flute will be their son, Masato Baba as well as other guest artists.  Masato is a leading taiko artist who tours worldwide with top taiko ensembles and taiko artists.  He has made appearances at the Academy Awards, with Alicia Keys on the X-Factor, and in the movie Redbelt.

Multi-instrumentalist Stephen Cervantes will also join the performance.  Cervantes performed interludes for the last ShastaYama on Mexican and South American instruments and will also add bass guitar and flutes to the POPS performance.

Jeanne Mercer is an honored taiko pioneer, helping to establish modern taiko and inspiring generations of taiko players.  She is known for impeccable skill, touch, and an open approach encouraging new directions for taiko music.  Jeanne has contributed to movie soundtracks Star Wars and Apocalypse Now.

Russel Baba has received critical acclaim as a “unique woodwind stylist with a bright vibrant sound” and for originality in compositional writing in national music publications Downbeat Magazine, Musician Magazine, and Jazz Times.

Coda Magazine writes “Russel Baba has managed to endow his alto saxophone with the timbre and flexibility of a violin.  His new sound is extra-ordinarily beautiful.”  Option Magazine writes of Russel’s work “…there are strong conceptual elements.  It is a direct music, not theoretical…very open and spiritual.”

Russel has toured and recorded saxophone and flutes with legendary jazz artists’ drummer Eddie Moore, violinist Michael White, and pianist Andrew Hill.

“A legacy has been passed on.” says Russel.  “So I continue to play music in the tradition and celebration of the creative spirit to honor these influential artists.  ‘Tadaima’ is the traditional Japanese announcement when one come home and means ‘I am here; I am present; I am home!,’ and I think the music reflects that.  The artists of ‘Tadaima’ have traditional roots, but explore and create new ways to play music as modern artists.”f

Russel and Jeanne have performed “taiko kaze” (wind taiko) at ShastaYama, at the San Francisco Jazz Festival, for the Earshot Jazz Festival in Seattle, the Vancouver International Jazz Festival in Canada, the International Taiko Festival at UC Berkeley, for the Oakland Freedom Jazz Society, the Asian American Jazz Festival in San Francisco, Oregon’s World Beat Festival in Salem, and in Loa Angeles at the Japanese American National Museum, the Japanese American Theater, and the Cerritos Center as well as several appearances at POPS.

A $10 donation for the music presentation is being asked.  For more information on Russel Baba, Jeanne Mercer, and Masato Baba or “Tadaima” go to