Life at Berklee:
Isaku in Berklee with Amelia Sophia Ali, Hiroshi Tokieda, Hirokazu Suyama.
It’s always great to have your child back home.
But Isaku on vacation from his studies at Berklee College of Music brought back something special: His music that is moving on in new directions.
He kept busy during his couple of weeks in Tokyo.
He played with Winchester Nii Tete, a brilliant percussionist from Ghana.
He is also having some fun with great Japanese musicians he met in Boston.
The journey never stops.
It’s a journey about your Self and your Life and your Art.
And so it keeps going and gets better _ if your Soul and Spirit and Mind are in the Right Place.
It is so very sad to see him leave _ to continue his studies at Berklee.
But it is my joy and pride to know Isaku not just as the son I love but also as a powerful musician with a vision that I also believe in, and I believe the world’s top artists share.
Come home again soon.
Isaku is in another Berklee College of Music project _ this time a tribute to Aung San Suu Kyi:
Music & Lyrics Sara Gamon, Arrangement Galen Willett, Lead Vocal Tiffany Wilson, Ensemble Shilpa Ananth, A.A. Enriquez, Joanne Jett Galindo, Yun Huang, James Miring’u Kamwati, Minako Yabe, Rendra Zawawi, Congas Enø & Judith Soberanes, Drumset Andrés Marín, Bass Galen Willett, Guitar Nat Svecha Saralamba, Taiko Drums Isaku Kageyama, Auxiliary Percussion Yuki Kanesaka, Andrés Marín, Sean Peters, Galen Willett. Produced by Sara Gamon, Mixed and Mastered by Takuto Kaneko, Video by Paulette Waltz. Thanks to Berklee College of Music.
“Drumming at the Edge of Magic: A Journey into the Spirit of Percussion,” by Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart is Japanese drummer Toshinori Takimoto’s bible.
And it shows in every way at his Drum Circle, a once-a-month gathering at a Tokyo suburb, a special spot for those who love the spirit of the drum, sharing in the oneness in the rhythms they create like a dance of sound.
Takimoto switches from one instrument to another, shaking a shekere, jangling a tambourine, whacking a djembe, sometimes orchestra conductor, sometimes master percussionist, sometimes fatherly teacher.
He jokes around, gesticulates like a mime, a shaman of the drum, all the time playing with energy, keeping the rhythm going so that everyone sounds pretty good.
Never fear: He won’t get mad _ even if you mess up.
The players seated in a circle do the best they can to follow where the music is going in a jubilant outburst of Takimoto’s drumbeat.
Playing together, keeping time to a primordial beat, brings harmony, says Takimoto, who has played with the big names in the Japanese pop music industry, including Yutaka Ozaki and Seiko Matsuda.
But he says he feels the kind of music he is pursuing with his Drum Circle is more him than the glitzy but often empty world of commercial music.
And somehow, each of us leaves his Drum Circle a gentler, maybe happier, person, a skip in our feet and a buzzing warmth in our hearts.
Like any mother, I am proud of my son Isaku.
But I am just as proud of Winchester Nii Tete, who is kind enough to say I’m his mom in Japan since his real mother is so far away in Ghana.
I cannot do much more than just be there and enjoy the music and feel my life change.
Winchester and Isaku come from two traditions that would seem miles apart.
Yet they come together to create good music.
“Tamashii no Hibiki” (“Soul Beat”) by taiko master Yoichi Watanabe (right in above photo), leader of Amanojaku, is a truly beautiful “odaiko” (big taiko) piece.
It is storytelling in percussion _ the talking drum _ at its height Japanese-style.
The video (in the link below) shows how my son Isaku Kageyama played it as a guest at the Tokyo International Taiko Contest.
He won a couple of contests himself with this piece, starting with the 2000 Mount Fuji contest when he became the youngest player at 18 to ever win the honors.
Please go to the site below, scroll down and download “Soul Beat.”
It takes a while but I think it’s worth the wait.
Video, though, never quite does taiko justice because of the physical sensation of taiko that goes beyond just hearing it _ imagine the walls, your blood veins, the insides of your brain and all the spaces of air around you shaking.
A poem for Winchester Nii Tete, a young but master percussionist
by Yuri Kageyama
bouncing bubbles of invisible gems
exploding softly from warm antelope skin
through the dark air
fragrance of a forgotten African flower
roosters, stripes in squares,
spilling on rolls of fabric unfolding
black on Kandinsky beige,
red on blue,
unseen but seen
in a single stroke
generations and generations speak
by your touch