Hear On Ensemble's taiko sounds in Dunsmuir

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald
On Ensemble / Shoji Kameda, Abe Lagrimas Jr., Masato Baba, and Eien Hunter-Ishikawa. Photo by Brent Pantell, from shastayama.org

On Ensemble, featuring former Mount Shasta residents and childhood friends Shoji Kameda and Masato Baba, is scheduled to perform at Pops Performing Arts and Cultural Center in Dunsmuir on Monday, Sept. 11 at 7 p.m.

Established in 2002, On Ensemble is recognized for infusing the powerful rhythms of taiko with a wide range of musical influences and instrumentation including ukulele, vibraphone and modern drum-set.

Shoji and Masato grew up in Mount Shasta and were trained in taiko by Russel Baba and Jeanne Mercer, founders of Shasta Taiko. They have since gone on to become professional taiko performers and musicians based in Los Angeles.

Shoji’s creative talents have led him to perform, produce, and compose works on several On Ensemble recordings; Hiroshima’s Grammy nominated recording – “Legacy;” television soundtrack for NBC’s “Heroes;” and film soundtracks – award winning “Abduction: the Megumi Yokota Story,” and a short film inspired from his composition “Yamasong.”

Shoji is exploring new ways to present taiko and expanding taiko’s reach through modern technology with the online site – kadon.com.

Masato is the son of Russel Baba and Jeanne Mercer, and he is recognized as a leading American taiko artist, composer, and a fresh voice on the fue – Japanese bamboo flute. He trained and toured with American taiko master Kenny Endo, Japan’s Nihon Taiko Dojo, and with fue Master Kyosuke Suzuki.

Masato is the artistic director of award-winning TAIKOPROJECT, served as head coordinator of the first World Taiko Gathering in Los Angeles, performed at the Academy Awards and with Alicia Keys on television’s the “X-Factor, among other accomplishments.

Eien Hunter Ishikawa is a musician, educator and composer specializing in drum-set, taiko, percussion, vibraphone and shinobue (Japanese flute). He has a degree in music education and a Master’s in percussion. He toured with the Kenny Endo Taiko Ensemble, and he collaborates and performs with a wide variety of artists, from electro acoustic groups, dancers, bag-pipe ensembles, African, and rock/reggae music.

Abe Lagrimas Jr. is a multi-instrumentalist on drum-set, vibraphone, and ukulele. He is a 2012 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Drums Competition semi-finalist and has authored two ukulele instructional books.

Abe has performed ukulele at festivals worldwide with a wide range of musicians, most notably Jake Shimabukuro and taiko master Kenny Endo. He has released several albums in the US, Japan and Korea.

On Ensemble were the featured performers at ShastaYama 2016 and recently at the North American Taiko Conference.

POPS is located at 5819 Sacramento Avenue in Dunsmuir. Admission is $10 at the door.