Always lots of stories inside each tour, but for now, I wanted to share the over view of the journey with you and the second half of this tour is coming at the end of April 2018, so I recommend you find a way to see this All Star band if you can. A truly wonderful fusion!Read More
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...now, bringing us back up to this current album release, the sweetest chapter of this journey was during the years I was living with my son Shaun up in the mountains outside Boulder Colorado in a cabin. And for his bed time stories, I would accompany them with my simple, alter tuned guitar style. And from those came the melodies that have become this album. Never intended for sharing outside of that private home setting, but now I feel have a place in other family's homes or for those who could use a bit of calm, open imagination in these busy times.Read More
The tour started out at SF Jazz in San Francisco with Zakir, bass legend Dave Holland, sax virtuoso Chris Potter, drumming heroes Vinnie Colaiuta & Eric Harland, India’s Louiz Banks on piano, Sanjay Divecha on guitar and the world renowned vocalist Shankar Mahadevan. Wow, what a line up...Read More
I joined Krishna Das in Denver for a reunion concert along with 1000 kirtan loving Coloradans. It had been 8 years since we last played together and it was love at first beat, as usual...Read More
My most recent tour was with my Tokyo based trio, YO ~ which features Yutaka Oyama (shamisen), Akihisa Kominato (shakuhachi) & myself on tabla. This was our second tour and already the music and relationships are deepening into a meaningful and sustainable collaboration...Read More
Zakir was totally amazing on this tour (of course), in my book he just keeps getting deeper and clearer in his music. Even just being around him during a casual sound checks is like getting a lesson in creativity, power and musical grace. I am consistently in awe of his musical spirit and abundant awareness which shows up in pretty much all things surround his life.
The featured new member of the Masters of Percussion was drum set legend, Steve Smith (from the band Journey). He actually was the first westerner ever to join the group and added such a cool element, both musically and inter-personally...Read More
I recently returned from a great tour with my Tokyo based group, YO. It was an amazing trip which covered some of my favorite spots along the west coast. These two artists are among the top in their field of traditional art and at the very top when it comes to modern and fusion music. So together, we were able to create a show that begins and show cases each of our ancient and very traditional playing styles and then work our way into a true blending of modern styles which we all three have grown up with.Read More
So from my retreat in Boulder, I jumped on a plane and made it out to Zakir's master class retreat in CA. Which, as you can imagine, is a yearly highlight for me. It is when I get to see all my weak points quite vividly, and how much I would like to keep studying all aspects of the tabla and music in general. Plus it is a chance to see my tabla family from around the world who also have been coming for some years...Read More
Before leaving for Japan, I began with a visit to my dear guru bhai Michael Lewis and family out in California. Michael is one of my closest musical friends and is the person who took me into his home in 1990 when I first use to go to Zakir's classes. I generally would sleep in my car at night because I was to poor to afford a hotel room. Michael had been studying with Zakir since the early 1970s and not only shared his home with me, but his musical wisdom. We'd stay up late into the night playing tabla and he would generously guide me through my many tabla (life) questions...Read More
I am on the road at the moment with my teachers Ustad Zakir Hussain and Pandit Shivkumar Sharma. As some of you know from my past Diary entries, we have been doing this spring tour with Shivkumar Sharma every two years since 2000. So off we go on yet another adventure.
This tour is such a highlight amongst the tour managing I do for my Guru Zakir because of the purity and intimacy of the music that these two maestros share...
I spent a couple of weeks over the holidays in Japan doing some workshops and live events which were wonderful and unique. My friend and student Mikoto Seto set up an event called JoOn (which means purifying sound) in Kobe Japan. It was intended to help us clear and clean our minds and hearts for the upcoming year. To give thanks for the blessings of this past year and of the gifts of our lives.Read More
It was an interesting start to the tour because when I arrived, I cleared customs in the Gold Coast which is renowned for being strict on Quarantine. And even though I have been to Australia over a dozen times (through Sydney) without an issue, this time they confiscated my drums and said I could not bring them into the country. WHAT!??!!?? So I had no option but to leave them at the Immigration office and get on my next flight to go up to Sydney to meet Steve. I really didn't know what I would do for about 24 hours until I finally got through to an officer in Canberra who knew what the tabla drums are and said that if I can pay the fee of $300 and fax over the appropriate forms, then she will give me the permit to bring them in and promise to leave with them. So I jumped on that deal and the next morning (which was the day of the first concert) I drove up to the Gold Coast and picked up my drums. Wow - what a scare…Read More
It is interesting that from the time I discovered the Native American path, I immediately was drawn to it on an almost instinctive way. When I was about 22 years old, I met my shaman teacher up in Montana (Listening Thunder of the Cree people) and spent 11 years apprenticing with him (sweat lodge, pipe ceremony, sun dance). Then, some years later, found out from my father that our family, back in the 1700s gained Algonquian blood on my grandfathers side and I am actually 1/16th Native American...Read More
This year's Japan tour was an amazing experience. I made the decision to stay in Japan longer and arrange fewer concerts so that I could sink into simply being in Japan in a deeper way. Most of my time was spent in Kyoto where there are so many beautiful temples, deep green forests, mountains, rivers and fresh air. (Not to mention great food:)Read More
I spent the summer teaching a number of retreats around the US and actually only did a handful of performances. It has been nice to take a little break from doing so many concerts and just focus on teaching and developing projects for the future. One of the highlights of my summer months is always my Guruji's master class retreat in Northern California, so I'll try to share a little of each of these retreats.Read More
One of the featured events from this visit was the annual International Shakuhachi Camp and the International Shakuhachi Festival (held every 4 years in different countries each time). This year, both events were held in Kyoto Japan which was absolutely the most appropriate place to hold these events in the world. The camp had over 75 participants from all over the world and 10 of the top teachers from Japan, Australia and America.Read More
This years tour with Zakir Hussain and the Masters of Percussion was another amazing, action packed month. We managed to fit 18 concerts into a 30 day period which is quite a lot given the fact that every concert was in not only a different State, but sometimes in a different Country. We criss crossed the US from coast to coast and made it down to Mexico City as well as up to Canada.Read More
Welcome back to my blog diary.
We just finished the Intermediate level, Winter Tabla Retreat here in Boulder Colorado. Again, most of the participants were returning for the fifth or sixth and even the tenth or eleventh time. As many of you may know, the tabla is considered the most difficult of all percussion instruments to learn and over all is perhaps one of the most complex instruments on the planet. So I take my hat off to these tabla warriors who keep coming back and working on developing this amazing art form.
As it turns out, just before this retreat, I had come down with a case of pneumonia and was in the throws of cold and hot fevers and of course relentless coughing the entire time. So this time, even though we did cover some important material and looked at peoples practice with a more critical eye, I really did need some TLC. So I found that the sweet caring of the students really came out and I was constantly surrounded with cough syrup, juices, teas, lung medicine and tissues.
I feel very blessed that the dozens of students who have come to these retreats take time out of their very busy lives to spend a weekend or two per year with me. The lives we lead can be made complex and often over whelming or we can attempt to keep things streamlined and clear by doing less and allowing our attention to sink deeper into simple things. It is the same with the tabla practice. For most of us, in order to feel the joy of such an intense practice, it is best to focus on fewer things, bringing out the sweet tones as well as becoming comfortable and confident with a manageable portfolio of material. After all, it is the beauty, inspiration and joy that originally drive us to want to learn, so keeping a focus on these simple things help keep us out of drama and stress.
On the Saturday night of the retreat, I had the honor of playing with sarode maestro Ken Zuckerman. He is one of the very top long term disciples of the late Ustad Ali Akbar Khan and runs the Ali Akbar Khan College of music in Basel Switzerland. The event was produced Ken is an Early Music lute expert and an amazing Classical Indian Music virtuoso. We had a great time together visiting before the concert and of course playing together on stage. Of course, I did everything I possibly could to keep from coughing, or from falling over in the middle of the concert from hallucinational fevers. But I managed to let the music shift my reality to where I could put my sickness aside.
Ken Zuckerman & Ty at Naropa University in Boulder Colorado
During the retreat, I had each student play through the basic set of material that they normally practice. This helps us weed out material that either they are not ready for or is not useful to strengthening their basics. From there, we decided to create a basic package of material that is common to all the students which can grow over time or simply stay as is and deepen.
Camillo Scherer (Tucson AZ)
Ryan Nadlonek (Boulder Colorado)
Jim Meiklejohn (California)
Dennis Uhls (Wyoming)
Mark Conner (Colorado)
Shreyas Iyer (Phoenix)
Simon Ha (Michigan)
Mallika Anand (Minnesota)
Jon Crane (Seattle)
Courtney Kerr (New Mexico)
Joe Fajen (California)
The following weekend we had the beginners tabla retreat in the same location, Unity Church of Boulder. I remember hosting all levels, (total beginners and intermediate players) in the same retreat in the years past which makes it quite hard to give each person the type of attention and detail they need. Especially difficult with a complex, and very personalized instrument such as the tabla. So it feels so good now that I have separated out the beginners from the intermediate levels. They made amazing progress, starting out not even knowing how to play Na, and by the end of our two days together, being able to play Dha ti Dha ge Dhin Na ge Na and even basic Qwalli rhythms. Quite impressive!!!
Beginner Tabla Retreat ~ Winter '12
Hard at work...
Luckily, I had greatly recovered from my pneumonia by this retreat and had a lot more energy. I love sharing this art form and what it holds within it. It doesn't matter so much if it is beginners or more advanced players, I feel a special blessing to be able to spend the hours and share in the discovery of music. All of our retreats and a great deal of my knowledge comes from my Guruji Zakir Hussain. So we all bow down to receive his blessing and acknowledge the pure state of music which he represents.
So my next entry will feature the North American tour with Zakir Hussain and the Masters of Percussion which begins March 15th and ends April 15th. I look forward to sharing that adventure with you soon.
Much love to you and yours,
In December 2011, I completed my annual Australian tour which was, as always, such a pleasure. I love seeing all my good Australian friends who have supported the music I have brought over the past 6 years. This year I brought violin virtuoso Kala Ramnath who is such an amazing musician. I was very humbled, as I am every time I play with her. The vocal tradition from which she comes is vast and regarding accompaniment, is a specialized art form. Kalaji learned from her grandfather who was a renowned Classical Indian violinist. Her training began at the age of 2 1/2 and in the years that followed...Read More
Welcome back to my stories from the road. This past 9 months has been a time of many events and tours back to back for me and indeed many shifts and changes for us all. It is good to be able to write again and spend some time reflecting on the journey of my life with you. My last entry was my powerful and moving trip to Japan right after 3/11 Earthquake and Tsunami. I will begin my diary again with my fall Japan tour which took place from the end of August through the beginning of October.
Maacha tea - nectar of the Gods & Goddesses!!!
As tradition has it, I started the fall tour with the annual Obubu Yoga / Sound Retreat in Wazuka Japan. This was the third year Matsu-san and I have hosted this retreat and it has become such a beautiful community of people.
The vibration of the tea fields, mountains, Temples and the desire of the people to find a new, inspired day and a fresh perspective on life is what makes this retreat special. Each person is willing to go inside them selves - working and living together for those days, creating a conscious community to better ourselves and the world we live in. We are also very blessed at this retreat to have the support of the Kontaiji Temple monks who take us each year up to the sacred waterfalls in the mountains. This waterfall has been used by the mountain monks and samurai as a training spot for meditation for hundreds of years. This year we were told by the monks that it is highly unusual to have rainbows appear there, yet they appeared all around us as we did the training, it was a rare blessing and each one of us felt it.
Obubu Yoga & Sound Retreat - At the sacred monk training waterfall.
Kanji Okada, head priest of Kontaiji Temple after waterfall training.
From the retreat, I traveled to Kyoto where I had a couple of events at Studio Yoggy. We did our annual Musical Universe workshop where some of my dear friends came to for a second, third or fourth time. We are at a point now where we can have more advanced levels for this workshop. So in the next year I have decided to host a couple of more focused workshops where we can spend a full weekend diving deeper.
Musical Universe Workshops
Kyoto Musical Universe workshop!!! Translator Seiko Kimura
Then the same day as the workshop, we held an intimate fusion concert featuring Akihisa Kominato, a high level shakuhachi maestro, Yukie Satoh a wonderful Odissi dancer, Steve Oda on sarode and myself on tabla. It was a concert with no plan and no rehearsals. So we all agreed that we would just improvise and create a weaving in the moment. Wow, what a treat!!!
Kyoto concert - Yukie Satoh, Akihisa Kominato, Steve & Ty
The wonderful Kyoto Studio Yoggy staff.
Next we moved to Nagoya where Yukie Satoh produced a wonderful fusion event at a classical music theater. She is one of those artists who applies the same amount of care to her event producing as she applies to her dance art form. Before the concert there was a roof top meal served for the audience and artists. This event gave the trio from the Kyoto concert to move deeper into playing together but added santoor maestro Setsuo Miyashita (Jimi-san). So we had such amazing sounds and diverse soundscapes to draw from. It was a great event!!!
Concert in Nagoya - Setsuo Miyashita, Yukie Satoh, Akihisa Kominato, Steve & Ty
After this the Nagoya concert Jimi-san took Steve and I to Gifu where we stayed for a couple of days relaxing in our friend Tomonori Nozaki's restaurant, healing center in the beautiful Gifu mountains. We had the rich sound of the river running by our rooms singing to us while we slept and practiced music. I got to meet some of Jimi-san's students who are playing quite well and will join the forces of young musicians representing Japan's Indian classical music scene soon. If you are ever in the mountain area of Gifu in your travels, please stop by and have a meal at this beautiful healing center and tell them Ty sent you!!! You'll love it.
Owner of the Ganjin Koiudo healing center, great chief and
wonderful human being Tomonori Nozaki.
The wonderful healing center and vegetarian restaurant Gangin Kojudo.
Little tabla workshop at Ganjin Koiudo
(the two on the left are Jimi-san's santoor students also).
Jimi-san also is one of those musicians who has a gift in organizing events and he is responsible for creating the annual Gifu Sangeet Mela for the past 14 years. This was a wonderful event for me to be a part of because I was able to meet so many great artists from all over Japan. There were Kathak, Odissi and Bharatanatyam dancers as well as many Instrumentalists, singers, pakawaj, ghatam and tabla players. It was a full night concert and Steve Oda and I played from around 12:30 until around 1:30am and then a trio piece with Odissi dancer Yukie Satoh which ended around 2am. It was a very hot and combined with me having a fever, I can say that I have never sweat on stage so much in my life... I might as well have jumped into the bath tub on stage... It is always interesting trying to play under such conditions and maintain some sense of grace and composure.
This night was very important for me on a deeper level as well. Something switched and opened inside me to uncover a new horizon of potential that I didn't see coming. A big full moon, the meeting of Souls and reaching into the musical heart can do that when conditions are right (Dhvani).
And that same night at 3am, we jumped into a van with 5 other musicians to drive the 7 hours up to Tokyo for a mid-afternoon concert featuring three wonderful concerts back to back. (photos below) This event was produced by Taro Terahara's wife Yuriko-san who is a totally amazing producer and supporter of the arts. She gave us an over flowing, sold out music loving audience in a high level theater in down town Tokyo. We were all of course quite tired, but the music and company kept our spirits souring high.
Indian music festival in Tokyo produced by Yuriko Terahara
Fumie Negishi (vocal) & Ayako Ikeda (tabla)
Taro Terahara (bansuri) & Shen Flindell (tabla)
Amit Roy (sitar) & U-zhaan (tabla)
Steve Oda (sarode) & Ty Burhoe (tabla)
The blessing of this life cannot be counted once we sit in a posture of thankfulness. Even through difficult times and during times of change, there is always the comfortable seat within us where we can sit in thankfulness. From here we can find "ease of heart" and find the fresh air to follow that can lead us to a safe and common ground.
Then came a very special event which was a highlight of my musical year. My dear friend Hiromi Kubota who also happens to be a wonderful Indonneasian dancer, produced the "Spirit of Asia" concert in Tokyo featuring two of Japans great young artists, Yutaka Oyama (shamisen) and Akihisa Kominato (shakuhachi). These two musicians are fully rooted in their traditions and are highly respected for carrying their traditions forward, but they also are able to free their minds from those guide lines and play fully improvised music. I found that we were able to weave in elements of jazz, blues, rock and totally open landscapes. The rhythmic interplay with Yutaka-san reminded me of the sparks and explosive runs that i use to have in the band Curandero with guitarist Miguel Espinoza. Swimming in the joyous ocean of rhythm. And few people know this, but I use to play a little shakuhachi many years back and it has always been a love of mine. Aki-san's playing is exactly what I dreamed of all those years ago and now we get to play together. His control and freedom on the instrument is mind blowing when you understand how difficult an instrument the shakuhachi is.
So the trio had one rehearsal and then the concert. It is always amazing to me to play with artists who can just show up and create an entire evening of music based on little or no preparation. Of course I also love the deepening that happens musically when artists really get to know one another, so we'll get to have the best of both worlds as we develop music for this trio in the years to come. We have a Japan tour under works for next September. And starting in 2013 I hope to start touring with them in other countries, so keep your eyes pealed for when we come to your area.
Spirit of Asia Trio - Yutaka Oyama (shamisen) / Akihisa Kominato (shakuhachi) / Ty (tabla)
Trio performing live at CAY in Tokyo
Akihisa Kominato & Ty exploring...
Yutaka Oyama & Ty having a blast!!
Akihisa Kominato / Ty / Yutaka Oyama
Following the trio concerts I had several smaller events around Tokyo including a couple of Musical Universe workshops. These workshops are deepening to a point now where the need for a manual text book is needed for people to be able to continue their studies. And as a matter of fact, I recently have been contracted to write two books which will be due by the end of 2014. One of these books will focus on stories and adventures from my life and the amazing people I have had the blessing of spending time with. This book will directly tie into the topics within the Musical Universe. The second book (s) will be a text book for understanding and deepening the practice of Nada Yoga and the Musical Universe. I am very excited to write these books provided i can find the time between the tours :) But to have a means to share this topic with musicians, therapists and people of all backgrounds will be deeply fulfilling to me.
Much of the help I receive to be able to do the work I do in Japan is because of a few close friends and mostly has been Kaori Mizuno. She is my Tala Records Tokyo based assistant and does lots of my booking, flyer design and translation for the Japan tours. Heart felt thanks and many blessings to her and all the wonderful people who help make my visits possible.
Kaori-san & Kazuyo Kaneko (amazing latin dancer) at an event after party.
It is always an important un-winding and fun filled part of the night.
Then began the next phase of the tour with my dear friend and sitar maestro Shubhendra Rao. This portion of the tour was produced by my student Jun Haraguchi and her partner Shinya Ando (santoor player). They arranged a separate producer in each of the 4 cities we did concerts in who were all wonderful and generous. In Niigata we had Saito Isamu (sitarist) and Mika Yamashita. In Nagoya we had Jun-san (tabla) and Shinya-san (santoor). In Kyoto we had Bayan-san (tabla) and in Tokyo we had Reiko Watahiki who is a great lover of the music. It was so fun, because many of the producers from the other cities also came along to the other concerts. So we had a kind of musical caravan happening across central Japan.
Shubhendra and Ty leaning on Jun-san's cute little car!
Tour producers Saito-san, Jun-san, Shinya-san and translator Ayako Saito in Nagoya.
Niigata sitarist and producer Saito-san and Gifu santoor player and producer Shinya-san.
I am again and again deeply moved by the hard work and care given to most everything in Japan. To find that quality in the producers, students and audience for music is truly a gift. The process of sharing the love of the arts and witnessing the opening of a heart is worth all the years of hard work developing these pathways to music lovers around the world. Japan and it's people are an inspiration to the rest of the world in all these ways!
Kyoto tabla player and producer Bayan-san.
Tabla workshop in Nagoya.
Staff of Tribal Arts - wonderful vegetarian restaurant & organic shop in Nagoya.
Reiko Watahiki and the Tokyo concert dream team!!!
After the tour with Shubhendra finished, my friend David Wheeler from Boulder Colorado came to Tokyo who happens to be a maestro of the shakuhachi and lived in Tokyo for over 20 years. We decided to arrange a last minute duet concert in one of Tokyo's oldest Shinto Shrines. It was such an honor to be invited to participate in the opening ceremony inside the sacred center of the Shrine. The private, mid-day concert was a real treat and was followed by a delicious lunch by the generous presenters. Again, it was a pleasure to be able to sit down with a musician with no plan or rehearsal and present a musical experience for people. David is one of those great musicians.
Shakuhachi maestro David Wheeler & Ty after a duet concert in Tokyo.
Another highlight of this tour was the concerts with jazz guitarist Yukihiro Atsumi and tap dancer Saro. If I ever wanted to clean out the expressive sonic pipes inside me, playing with these guys is the medicine. It is incredible how free the music is with Yukihiro-san. The closest thing I have experiences to it is playing with piano virtuoso Art Lande. The way Yukihiro-san likes to design the music is with perhaps 15% clean, clear melodic head or theme, and then 85% totally open improvisation. As he often says, "we create the mood, and then we go to the stars".
It is amazing working with Saro on a rhythmic level because he not only is trained in traditional tap, but also in hip hop and jazz and actually has gone to India (Benares) to study Kathak and tabla which makes him one of the most cutting edge tap dancers on the planet. Between he and I, we create quite the engine to drive Yukihiro's melodic adventures.
This is another trio which I would love to bring over to other countries so you can also experience the musical wilderness we wonder into. I will do more concerts with them in 2012 as well as some recording... I have put a video clip below of one of the short songs we did in a Tokyo club. Hope you enjoy!
This tour was so richly diverse and so enlivening musically. I feel that many different facets of my musical personality were honored and satisfied by the fantastic musicians I was blessed to play with. In so many ways, music can be a guiding light into deeper realizations about our lives. This goes for listening to music, in learning music or in performing music. As i have said before, leaning into new worlds requires risk taking. This principal appears in all aspects of our lives, both in the day to day "normal" life as well as in the "dream time" world of the shaman. As in the vision quest of the Native American Indian, where only when we travel to the boundaries of the comfortable and familiar, do we finally expose our vulnerable, open Soul, and that meeting we have been waiting for our whole life can happen between the bear (kuma) and the mountain lion (puma) and the sheer power of being alive can be experienced.
The journey from 3/11 to 10/11 shows the ability of our Japanese family to find that "new day" and find the great hope to rise up inspired in the face of such difficult times. This is the trait of a true musician, to listen to what is true in the moment, and from this, feel what action is appropriate to move towards to a fresh and honest state of being. It may not always be a harmonically pretty journey, but the power that is present within an authentic expression is far greater than society has taught us. It is our natural state to glow with compassion, kindness, humor and passion. These qualities arise naturally as we learn how to discover and simply "be ourselves" - letting the pressure inside us equalize with the pressure in the natural world around us.
I wish you all a beautiful December and I'll be posting an entry soon from my recent tour in Australia with violin maestro Kala Ramnath.