Category Archives: Taiko

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

Pops FlyerOn Ensemble
Monday, September 11, 7:00 pm,
$10.00
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 russelbaba.com/tadaima.