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35th Anniversary Tour

“Jazzy…earthy…sassy” (Nadir Magazine, Tokyo)

Taiko artist Kenny Endo celebrates his 35th year of taiko (Japanese drum) drumming in 2010 with a performance tour featuring an exciting group of musicians from both Japan and the US.

One of the leading personas in contemporary percussion and rhythm, Endo is the vanguard of the taiko genre, continuing to pave new paths in this Japanese style of drumming. A performer, composer, and teacher of taiko, he has received numerous awards and accolades.

He was the first foreigner to be honored with a “natori,” stage name, in Japanese classical drumming. Kenny Endo is a consummate artist, blending Japanese taiko with rhythms influenced from his jazz background and collaborations around the world into original melodies and improvisation. For more information, audio, and photos, please visit

GATEWAY -- 'MA' vs GROOVE -- 35th Anniversary Tour

For his 35th anniversary as a taiko artist, Kenny Endo has assembled an all-star cast of musicians to premiere his newest work Gateway—Ma vs Groove, as well as share traditional Japanese music and the excitement of Endo's dynamic original compositions. Four master musicians will join Endo for the tour which is scheduled to cross the USA from Hawai‘i to the east coast.

Gateway--Ma vs Groove will explore the Japanese concept of 'ma' (room, interval) juxtaposed with the Western musical concept of groove (playing with swing, 'in the pocket', in Japanese- 'nori'). In Western music when no sounds are made, it is called a rest while in Japanese music as much energy is put into the 'ma' as the sounds. Although seemingly at odds, these two concepts are like yin and yang. It is that space in rhythm that creates the feeling of propulsion and energy in the music. Concepts of stillness and movement, left and right, old and new, in and out, and entrance and inaccessibility—all are interrelated, indispensable, and shape the rhythms of our lives.

The 2010-11 tour will offer concerts, lecture-demonstrations, workshops, and master classes by the artists. Fun and accessible, this music appeals to taiko aficionados, drum enthusiasts, and general audiences alike. (5 artists travel).

About the Guest Artists

Hitoshi Hamada (vibraphones, percussion): Playful and virtuosic, Hitoshi Hamada is one of Japan's top jazz vibraphonists.

Kaoru Watanabe (shinobue, Nohkan, flute, taiko): Raised by classical musician parents, Kaoru Watanabe is the #1 transverse bamboo flutist in the United States, and is a former artistic director and principal flutist of the world famous KODO.

Shoko Matsumoto (koto, dance): Shoko Hikage is a creative and daring koto player (started playing koto (Japanese zither) at age 3) and an experimental dancer.

Tadayoshi Yasuda (shamisen): A shamisen (3-stringed Japanese lute) artist in kabuki theatre style, he has performed for some of the greatest kabuki actors of this time, as well as Japanese National Living Treasures and rock, jazz, and blues artists.