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On Ensemble, Kaoru Watanabe and Sumie Kaneko


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On Ensemble, Kaoru Watanabe and Sumie Kaneko

  • Shapeshifter Lab 18 Whitwell Place Brooklyn, NY USA (map)

Founded by childhood friends Shoji Kameda and Masato (Maz) Baba, On Ensemble has forged a new path for the art form by combining their study and deep appreciation of Japanese traditional music, then infusing the powerful rhythms of taiko with a myriad of musical influences ranging from rock and electronica to odd meter grooves, soaring melody and central asian overtone singing. Shoji and Maz were taught taiko at an early age (8 and 6) by Maz’ parents, accomplished taiko players and jazz musicians Jeanne Mercer and Russel Baba, who started one of the first children’s taiko groups in the United States. The duo has been playing and making music together for over 30 years and are recognized as two of the brightest stars in the taiko world.

New York based Kaoru Watanabe is North America’s most accomplished shinobue (bamboo flute) virtuoso masterfully incorporates Jazz melodies and improvisation with Japanese folk and classical traditions. Watanabe is a former member and artistic director the renowned KODO taiko ensemble. Singer songwriter Sumie Kaneko blends her koto and shamisen training from Tokyo National of Fine Arts with a background in Jazz vocal performance from Berklee College of Music. Together with On Ensemble these artists transverse boundaries effortlessly and create music that speaks across generations and cultures.