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Kaoru Watanabe: a rare musician who traverses the traditional music forms both East and West, classical and contemporary, predetermined and improvisational. His expertise in taiko drumming and bamboo flutes gives his music both force with extreme delicacy. His superb musicianship makes him a joy to create with. He enriches any musical situation with his unique perspective.
— Jason Moran (Jazz Pianist, Blue Note Recording Artist)

Hello friends,

Just returned from a week in California, teaching at the Collegiate Taiko Invitational at UC Irvine, and workshops in San Diego and the Bay Area. It was inspirational as always to work with enthusiastic taiko and fue players, young and not so young and at various points in their musical careers.

I'm extremely excited to be teaching and performing alongside Yo Yo Ma and members of the Silk Road Ensemble at the Global Musicians Workshop, organized by my good friend Mike Block. I've never heard of a music camp quite like this: student and professional level musicians of Western Classical and traditional music backgrounds alike- coming together to develop music with instructors who are considered masters of their field. As an instructor, I'm tasked with leading mixed ensembles through both traditional and original repertoire. I'm accustomed to being in the roles of instructor and collaborator, but this will be a challenging tight rope to walk, sharing my knowledge of Japanese music, improvisation, and searching for an organic blend of tone and timbre with already accomplished musicians.

Following directly after this camp, I'm heading to Las Vegas for the National Taiko Conference where I'll be teaching workshops and seeing friends new and old. After the conference, I will bring along fellow instructor Yuu Ishizuka with me to NY for a performance and workshop in Brooklyn. Yuu and I performed with each other many years ago in Tokyo and Osaka during one of my Resonance tours but our connection runs much deeper. Yuu's brother Mitsuru joined Kodo a year after me and we spent many years together on the road. Also, I very recently started studying O-tsuzumi with Yuu's father, the great Mochizuki Saburo.

Yuu is considered one of the top taiko players in the world at the naname style of taiko made popular by the iconic taiko group Oedo Sukeroku Daiko. I strongly recommend people come and see this guy play and/or take a workshop with him!

Here's a short feature on a group I've been developing called Ne-O Ensemble for BRIC media.                                                

Below is a list of NY activities coming up. Thanks for reading!



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Latest Recording

Convergence CD
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Chance Improvisation Duet