With the Kodo Drummers
Kodo Taiko drummers part 1
Wow! I just got back from an amazing trip to Sado Island, the home of the famous Kodo Taiko drummers. So many weird and beautiful things happened that I have to tell you about it. My first association with the Kodo Drummers was when I recorded on their latest CD "Mondo Head" which was produced by Mickey Hart (of the Grateful Dead) for CBS Sony. They recorded two of my songs and one of them was chosen to be official music for The World Cup 2002 soccer games in Asia. After the recording I was asked to perform in their annual "Earth Celebration Festival" on Sado Island. I had to put together a special percussion group and so I called Giovainni Hidalgo and Meia Noite, a percussionist from Bahia Brazil. And of course Flora Purim. To prepare we prerecorded some amazing nature sound which we would play "on top of". My sound engineer Celso Alberti stored them all in his computer and off we flew with no rehearsal.
We flew from Los Angeles California to Tokyo Japan, then took a four hour ride on the "Bullet Train" all the way to the oceans edge and then rode for one and a half hours on a huge hovercraft before we reached Sado Island. The Hovercraft was nothing like I expected, it was smooth like flying. When we finally arrived the Kodo group was waiting to take us to their "mountain top" headquarters.
After all that "high tech" travel, arriving at their headquarters was so beautiful and peaceful it was as if we had gone back in time. It was pretty incredible, even the building we ate dinner in was built in the 1700s. I was amazed at how organized and disciplined these people were. While their offices are filled with the best high tech equipment in the world, they grow their own food, get their water from the pristine mountain streams and their fish is fresh from the nearby ocean. They make their own drums from what must be 50 acres of their own forest land, and they replenish the forest by replanting more trees. We were so impressed with their spiritual energy and their respect of nature and the land.
The next day we rehearsed from 8 am till about 10:30 at night. There were about 30 of us just sharing the environment and energy of the music. A real team. The next day there was a huge street market selling things from all over the world, and it was here I found some new "toys" for my collection. Then we rehearsed again till late at night. The day of the concert it had been raining hard, but it stopped shortly before and we performed to an audience of about two thousand people from all over the world. Out in nature, under a beautiful full moon, the audience dancing as we played, it was a great night. And it wasn't even the concert with The Kodo Drummers!
Kodo Taiko drummers part 2
I can not find the words to describe the concert with the Kodo Drummers. It is so huge and so incredible. They have such precision and coordination that even when I am part of it, standing in the middle, it seams unreal and impossible. It is extremely visual, with every movement choreographed to add even more to the mix of rhythms, precision and changing stage sets. Huge sets of drums and percussion stands on platforms were moved on and off stage throughout the show and the audience would hardly notice because their attention would be drawn to a different part of the stage. At one point I was asked to be the "distraction", I was told to just do what I wanted. So... I went out and started playing some weird instruments that I have and began chanting and dancing all over the place. I felt so great that I forgot they were changing things behind me and the next thing I knew, I was flying over a couple of monitor speakers and crashed into something really big and hard. I had no idea what it was until a spotlight came on and right in the center of it was the biggest drum in the world and the main Kodo drummer. I know that when I crashed into it I moved the whole platform, but the drummer just stood there motionless waiting to begin our duet. He had no idea I was lying on the floor, nowhere near my percussion stand. A few seconds had passed, or an eternity and all I could do was be quiet. I was confused. I knew I could not just pretend every thing was normal, the whole audience had gasped when I crashed into the drum.
Finally he began to play and I stood up and started acting like a little boy scared of the great big drum. I acted like that all the way up the riser where my percussion stand was and finally began to play. I can't believe I made it there and after all that still played a great duet with the "Odaiko" drummer. Wow! What an experience.