Welcome back my friends,
It has been quite a while since I have written and lots of music and adventure have continued to happen during these months past. Some of the events have included classical Indian events in Japan and US which most recently culminated in a tour with my Guruji Zakir Hussain & The Celtic Connection. Wow, that was quite a collaboration. If you didn’t see it, you must check it out next time around.
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.
We had a brief and wonderful tour around Upstate NY which began in Toronto at Small World Music. My good friend Alan Davis hosted us and presented the concert in a beautiful little hall in downtown Toronto. A great beginning to our road trip.
We then headed down towards Buffalo but none of us had ever seen Niagara Falls before. So we made a stop at the falls just over the boarder on a supremely clear and beautiful day. Perfect!
Of course we had to get local hamburgers in the old town of Niagara at the famous Sunshine Cafe
We played in Buffalo that evening for the Trivani Indian Music Society which was a real honor since we were perhaps the only non-Indian production they had hosted in many years. They have presented the very best in Classical Indian music & dance for the last 30 years including Zakir Hussian, Shivkumar Sharma, Ravi Shankar, Ali Akbar Khan just to name a few. It was such a pleasure to play for such a sophisticated, classical music audience. And after the event, they brought us to one of the presenters homes for what was the finest home cooked Indian meal known to human kind!!!
These are the Buffalo Goddesses of Music & Indian Food - WOW - The best food imaginable!
Late that night, we decided to go next door to the Super 8 hotel which had a bar called the Yellow Jaguar for some live music & drink. Oh myyyyy, this is what we saw - incredibly loud 1980’s cover tunes. There were at least 5 audience members present, but man, it doesn’t matter when your playing the music you love!!! (actually the singer was quite impressive) but we had to leave during the second song to save our ears and certain brain cells which we’ll need later.
We then drove down to Ithaca for a concert at Cornell in the famous old Barnes Hall. If you never have driven around Ithica area, you should put it on your East Coast to do list because it is a beautiful part of NY with many scenic lakes and small towns in the rolling hills. Really lovely country.
We were hosted by Durga, a dear friend from the Zakir tours and a veteran Odissi dance performer & teacher there at the University. She did an amazing job bringing in a wide variety of music lovers - from music students to music professors to folks from the Japanese & Indian communities. It was in my book the high light venue & audience of the tour. It is amazing how it uplifts the music when the artists can really hear the acoustics of the hall and feel the presence of the people,,, it is a creative booster shot.
Built in the 1880’s this hall has all of the original old wood stage, walls, ceiling
and simply sounds beautiful. A hall like this becomes part of our instrument…
Next day we had a mini concert in a beautiful lakes side Chapel on Ithaca University campus hosted by
Denise Nuttall with some music students and a number of tabla students learning from Denise.
And on the following day we drove up to Syracuse University where Carol Babiracki hosted us for a
lecture/Demo with her music class. And YES, this old building was indeed the house in the
TV show “The Addams Family” and hopefully the Monsters were listening!
On the flight home I had the seat positioned so I could watch our luggage getting loaded on the plane…
Or should I say being “Thrown” onto the plane. At least I feel at easy since I have those amazing Storm cases
which I also got for Yutaka-san for his birthday,,, the first ever Shamisen/Storm Case in history:)))
Once we arrived in Boulder, we chilled out for a couple of days and did a fun radio show on Boulder’s public radio station KGNU and also some rehearsals up at my home with some special guest artists joining us for the weekend concerts. I didn’t make my famous chai tea for the guys, but we were really enjoying the organic Ethiopian coffee
I had at the house. A very nice addition to our rehearsals.
Then on Saturday we had a nice event at the Athea Center in Denver. An old Denver landmark and a very live acoustic hall.
This event was hosted by my dear friend Sandra Wong who I have played music with for a number of years and is a brilliant violinist as well as one of the worlds few professional nyckelharpa players. She is now the Curator at the Theater and presented YO for us as well as hosted our other special guests David Kansuke Wheeler (shakuhachi) and old musician buddy Miguel Espinoza (Curandero - Flamenco guitar). It was a fun evening of blending so many different traditional instruments into the music and developing this unique musical conversation.
Of course, Yutaka-san can make most anything sound musical - Even tabla -
Tonight’s Set List
Curandero, back together one last time after 18 years apart. Even though we had spent
so many years apart, doing each our own musical adventures, when sitting together playing music,
it was like we were two peas in a pod - smooth & easy & as many sparks as ever.
A true pleasure to collaborate once again.
Our last night on the tour was the beautiful Boulder Theater. We played there in the fall of 2013 and it was great to be back on their stage. The only thing was that on that night, it was really raining and cold in Boulder. So the theater workers did not want to climb up on the roof and put up our names - so it took me several requests to get them to agree to put our names up and they were in such a rush, they put Yutaka’s name on one side and Akihisa’s name on the other… as well as some interesting spelling errors… but I was happy that they at least tried.
Inside the theater - built over 100 years ago, the original stage and seating arrangement as well as the retro paint job make it a beautiful setting for music - not to mention their killer sound and nice lighting system.
I’ll post some video up on Youtube so you can see some cuts from the concert.
Seeing the boys off, back to Japan.
Another short but sweet YO tour comes to an end. We had a great time and deepened our connection, both each other and the music. I’ll be joining them in Tokyo the end of May for a show with the world’s great Noh flute maestros Yukihiro Isso (14th generation Noh flute player). Then off to Gotemba (produced by my dear friend Mikoto Seto) a town nestled right at the base of Mt Fuji to play a concert with Yuji Nakagawa & the following night with bansuri player Taro Terahara.
So the YO trio is building some momentum and we will be recording a CD sometime this year so that it can be released for our tours in 2016. Stay tuned for that - it will be a unique and exciting new sound in the music Universe.
Wishing you all the very best in this spring season and looking forward to keeping in touch.
Joy & Music to you,