Between the deep rooted  traditional Japanese Taiko drumming that began Saturday night’s  fourth annual ShastaYama Festival and the avant-garde world fusion mix that followed the intermission, there was a spellbinding jazz improvisation number by Ted Taforo and Russel Baba that would have caused the legendary saxophonist Coltrane to want to join in.
“It was a great blend of musical and community energies,” said Ron Kapp, who was visiting from Ashland. “Every year it’s the same but different as it lifts our spirits. It’s as solemn as it is joyous. Taiko drumming resonates throughout one’s being. There’s nothing else like it. If I had the time I would love to learn how to drum Taiko.”
Approximately 1,000 people enjoyed the show at Mount Shasta’s Shastice Park, which lies at the base of the mountain.
Rebecca Duff, a four year member of Shasta Taiko, was still beaming the day after the Saturday night performance.
“Prior to when we started to play it seems like there was an interval when I just knew that I was going to be on. And this time everyone was perfectly synchronized too, which makes it all the better,” Duff said. “It’s a gift to be able to be part of this group in Mount Shasta. The commitment and training required is worth it.”
Duff played her flute and  drummed during the first half of the show. She was also one       of three dancers during the improvisational jazz composition by Russel Baba called “Distance Floating.”
“What Baba and Taforo did with their horns was beyond words. And the dancers with their futuristic headdress and subtle movements was grounded but otherworldly as if some form of levitation had taken hold,” said Hank Longo of McCloud. “The syncopation between the two saxophones and the drums was incredible. The piece went on and on and on and still I  wanted more. The great spirit of John Coltrane seemed to be present while  they played.”
The concert lasted well into the cool night and concluded with some edgy pieces that incorporated Taiko and a range of fusion elements by featured guest artists On Ensemble, which includes Masato Baba and Shoji Kameda, who both grew up in Mount Shasta as members of Shasta Taiko.
Credit was given to the sound crew which had to go above and beyond the normal call of staging such a terrific event after they had their  equipment stolen the day before the concert.
The classy duo of Allison and Victor opened the concert along with hardworking gypsy band Kazango Jazz.
With a  drumming finale that was truly grand the concert concluded as the guest artists of On Ensemble joined in with the Shasta Taiko drummers in a joyful piece called “Yorokobi,” once again raising the earthly beat of the heart drum within us all unto the mountain and the heavens beyond.