Welcome back my friends,
Last month I was on tour with the legendary musicians Shivkumar Sharma and my Guruji, Zakir Hussain. Of course on that tour I pretty much become a road and stage manager, but this month I have become a musician again and have a number of different events in Japan and in the US.
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. To have this type of mentor is like having an angel who makes sure we don't crash and burn while we are learning to fly. I would honestly say that Michael is a significant factor in why I continued to play tabla over the years. He helped me to see that the tabla can be what we want it to be in our lives. It can be fun and mystical, it can be as challenging as we want, or it can be made as simple as we need. He use to say that, with all the complex rhythms and compositions flying at us all the time as tabla players, it is important to just focus on what sticks to you. Allow your self to enjoy what you naturally connect with. Don't worry about learning it all, that is not only will make you crazy, it is impossible! Go deeper with fewer things - nice huh!!
Steve and his wife Pushpa came along for our reunion visit and as a matter of fact, it was Michael who arranged for Steve and I to meet and start playing together back in 2005. Michael the angel ~
From left to right: Michelle (Michael's wife), Sarah (Michael's daughter),
Michael, Ty, Steve Oda, Pushpa (Steve's wife)
RECORDING WITH YO
Once I got to Japan, I went into the studio with my traditional/fusion band YO to produce a song for Yutaka Oyama's new album. Those guys are such first class musicians. Yutaka Oyama (shamisen) / Akihisa Kominato (shakuhachi). I am very excited that we will be touring around the US this coming November (Boulder, Seattle, Hawaii) It's going to be a blast!
WORKSHOP/CONCERTS IN KYOTO
From Tokyo, I made my way to Kyoto area where my friend and tabla student Mikoto Seto (and husband Taka-san) hosted two lovely events which featured yoga, music and food. She seems to surround her self with amazing people who have bright and curious energy like herself. She has the right mixture of joy and hard work that makes a good producer. She will host more events in Japan this fall and winter.
The musicians she brought together for this Kyoto events were Yuji Nakagawa who is a talented sarangi player who lives most of the year in Mumbai India, and then sitarist Yasuhiro Minamizawa who I actually play at both events with. We had a wonderful time together and we are all looking forward to more in the future.
My translator for this event was my dear friend Eri Saito who is an artist and dancer herself.
After event dinner with the gang.
TABLA RETREATS JAPAN
Last year I decided to begin the process of building the bi-yearly tabla retreat tradition in Japan. I started doing these retreats in Boulder back in 2006 and have continued ever since and am over joyed at the beautiful community of people who unite annually for learning and being together. So now I have begun this in Japan and each spring and fall we will host retreats in both Tokyo and Kyoto. And as tradition has it, we'll also have a live Classical music concert for the students and locals on the Saturday evening of the retreat. It is a great combination.
Tabla Retreat Tokyo - spring 2013
Meeting of the tabla!
Saturday night retreat concert featuring my dear friend Taro Terahara (bansuri)
After concert photo with Taro-san and his students
Tabla Retreat Kyoto - spring 2013
The venue for the retreat is the amazing instrument shop called Koizumi http://www.koizumigakki.com
The photo is of the owner and worker of the shop - all great guys and musicians as well.
You gotta check out their shop if ever in Kyoto!
TOKYO SOUND WORKSHOP
Another event produced by Mikoto san took place in Tokyo. The location was http://www.khoo.jpYoga Studio owned by Otoe-san. This time we were joined by the improvisational group Wa Qui Neh based out of Tokyo. It was an event to help deepen our experience of the sound in our world and in our bodies. We talked about the Musical Universe and worked on some pulse and rhythm. Then we enjoyed singing together with kirtan before Wa Qui Neh joined us for some sonic fun and totally improvised soundscapes. A great group of people came to this event - truly a family of musical souls.
ARKANSAS YOGA RETREAT
The following weekend I flew back to the US for a three day workshop at the Fayetteville Arkansas Yoga Center owned by Andrea Fournet (yoga instructor / painter / author). It was a long time coming since we had first been in contact several years ago about doing a workshop and yet I was simply too crazy busy touring to create the right window of time. So we ended up booking it a year and a half in advance. And after all that, I flew from Japan on one day, and the following day flew from Denver to Houston where I proceeded to get stuck because of tornados in Kansas. So I actually missed the opening talk I was suppose to give on the friday night. And as a matter of fact, I was watching the live report from the airport as the three storm chasers in Kansas who were out looking for tornados. Then, their reporting stopped suddenly - only to find out that they all died right then because shockingly, a huge tornado descended right on them. So I spent a dramatic day and evening at the airport.
I did get to Arkansas late that night and we had a lovely workshop over the next two days in her beautiful studio. Our focus was on the working of the Nada Yoga tradition and awaking our perception to the vibratory nature of all things. So we studied science, music, meditation and a new way to feel our world. I love having more time to get deeper into the actual practice of this wonderful topic. A weekend barely is enough time to set up the perspective let alone establish a practice, but even the process of introducing it to people is a reward in and of itself. I am looking forward to more time with this community in the years to come.
In the back yard of the studio
Developing our understanding of rhythm
TUCSON WITH STEVE ODA
And the final event of this series was a return to Tucson with sarode maestro Steve Oda. My dear friends Camillo and Cynthia have been producing concerts in their home town Tucson for me over the past 5 years. Camillo is actually also a tabla student of mine and a budding sarangi player as well. His wife Cynthia is the owner of Desert Alchemy Flower Essences http://www.desert-alchemy.comand also leads kirtan and is even one of the few harmonium repair artists in the country http://tucsonharmonium.com. It is always a very transformative time for me when I go there. Something magical out there in the desert and something safe and welcoming from my friends.
Camillo, Ty, Cynthia
The event with Steve was as magical as the desert and the clear starry skies.
We had a nice full house and Steve played beautifully.
The following day Steve taught a raga workshop and I taught a tabla workshop.
A great group as always in Tucson, levels ranging from total beginners to higher level
players like Saumya Jain, one of my senior students who flew in from Boulder.
Cynthia, Steve, Camillo & Ty
So this marks the end of the spring season. I will take the next month to work on some music for the next CD release and get some sorely needed R&R. My next series of events will be the Summer Tabla Retreats. Starting with the beginners retreat, then the intermediate retreat which includes another concert with Steve Oda and then off to Zakir Hussain's master classes for the first week of August. I'll get you a report of all those events in my next entry.
Many blessings and much love to you and yours,