Kenny Endo, drums

YouTube: Kenny Endo in Safe Landing

YouTube - Clarity
YouTube - Jugoya


Kenny Endo, Abe Lagrimas & Kaoru Watanabe

Winds of Change

The Ubiquitous One

Backside of the Moon

Forest Festival.mp3

Gumbo Luau by Rhythm Summit.mp3
Taiko-jazz fusion


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Kenny Endo Taiko



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

"His ability to interweave this skill at the traditional taiko style of playing with his facility for jazz drumming has enabled him to create an incredibly dynamic style of performing that captivated the audience and was literally breathtaking." (The Grateful Web, 2013, New York)

"Kenny Endo has probably taken taiko the farthest among Americans."
(Natural History, the North American Taiko Conference report)

One of the leading personas in contemporary percussion and rhythm, Kenny Endo is at the vanguard of the taiko genre, continuing to lead the way in this Japanese style of drumming as he marks his 40th year of performing and touring.

As jazz percussionist and early innovator in Japanese taiko, Kenny Endo’s adventurous spirit stretches the taiko genre incorporating  influences like funk, jazz, Afro-Cuban & Hawaiian, with roots firmly grounded in tradition. His performances are nuanced, brilliant, exciting!

He has received numerous awards and accolades, including special recognition in Japan—he was the first foreigner to be honored with a “natori,” a stage name, in Japanese classical drumming.

"...the concert was absolutely amazing.   Each performer was a master soloist in their own right, and you all came together in a very special ensemble blend...for me, your visit was even more special... seeing the blend of hogaku techniques, mnemonics, and kumidaiko styles... all blended into a modern approach to percussion that I believe is unique in the world today." --Dr. J. Larry Stockton, Professor & Chair, Department of Music, Lafayette College, Easton PA

Celebrating his 40th year of taiko performing and touring, Kenny marks some career highlights:

o Standard bearer as well as an innovator, led the way as taiko gained recognition in the U.S.

o A superb performer, composer, and teacher 

o Numerous awards, including day named for him in Honolulu

o First foreigner in Japan to achieve honor of a natori, a stage name

o Highly respected, performed for the late Michael Jackson and Prince, opened for The Who, performed with Bobby McFerrin

o His trailblazing and generous spirit has touched every taiko group in the U.S. today

o Had a day named for him in by the Mayor of Honolulu “Kenny Endo Day”

o Honored by the National Endowment for the Arts for American Masterpieces

o Featured artist on 2005 PBS special Spirit of Taiko and several film soundtracks (Hatta’s Picture Bride, Coppola’s Apocalypse Now)

Kenny Endo is a consummate artist, blending Japanese taiko with rhythms influenced by his jazz background and by collaborations with musicians from around the world. For his 40th Anniversary, Kenny will tour nationwide with his Kenny Endo Contemporary Ensemble. Performing in Kenny’s unique, versatile and vibrant style. The Ensemble features leading musicians in contemporary Japanese music with a jazz sensibility, on taiko, flute, vibes, shamisen, and koto, in dynamic original compositions. The 40th Anniversary Touring Ensemble will be 3-5 musicians. Among the stellar artists joining Kenny:

Abe Lagrimas, vibraphone, drums, ‘ukulele. Versatile, award-winning multi-instrumentalist, performs with jazz artists (Eric Marienthal, James Ingram), Hawai’I artists (Jake Shimabukuro, Don Tiki), and others

Kaoru Watanabe, Japanese bamboo flutes (nohkan, ryuteki, shinobue), Western flute, taiko. #1 transverse bamboo flutist in the US, a former artistic director & principal flutist of renowned KODO

Masaru Koga, flute, drums. Award-winning, multi-instrumentalist, music that respects traditions and goes beyond styles and idioms, Best Latin Jazz Flautist Award 2010

Shoko Hikage, koto, dance. A creative and daring koto player (Japanese zither) and an experimental dancer

Michihiro Sato, shamisen. A highly respected tsugaru, known for the Northern Japanese percussive style of playing the 3-stringed lute shamisen.

Hiromitsu Agatsuma, tsugaru-shamisen (select dates only). The rock star of shamisen players, one critic called his performances with Kenny a musical pairing equivalent to seeing Eric Clapton and John Bonha… the show went to another level”

The Ensemble also offers educational services including lecture/demonstrations, workshops, classes, and residencies.

Artist's website:

Symphony Guest Artist – Kenny Endo is available to guest in works for taiko and symphony. He has performed with the Honolulu Symphony, Hong Kong Philharmonic, and the Tokyo Symphony, and has had two works composed for him:  "Let Freedom Ring" concerto for taiko and symphony. Composer:  Takeo Kudo; performed by Honolulu Symphony and Hong Kong Philharmonic under conductor Sam Wong. "Concerto for Taiko and Timpani" Composer:  Jhou Long.