Next performance: Chinatown Music Festival

On Saturday, August 16, I will be part of Jon Jang's ensemble at the Chinatown Music Festival. We will be premiering his new work Toisan Railway. Here is info from Jon's website about the work:

Toisan Railway, a new music work by Jon Jang, pays tribute to the landmark achievement of Chin Gee Hee, an entrepreneur who built the first railroad in Toisan, China in 1920, despite the many obstacles stacked up against him.  Toisan Railway also honors the Toisanese, the majority of Chinese immigrants from Guangdong Province, who built the first transcontinental railroad in United States and supported the making of the Sunning (Toisan) Railway in China through their labor and financial support.

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Upcoming performances!

Had wonderful performances recently as part of National Japanese American Historical Society's Mo Magic Summer Fest, Melody Takata's Shadow to Shadow interdisciplinary performance work, and last night at SoMArts Cultural Center's 35th Anniversary Gala! Last week was especially busy with a recording session with many of my esteemed peers Jim Norton, Wayne Wallace, Melecio Magdaluyo, Scott Sorkin, Deszon X. Claiborne, Melody Takata, Yangqin Zhao, Tatsu Aoki and special guest from Tokyo Chizuru Kineya, shamisen grandmaster. 

Upcoming is July 24 at Studio Grand in Oakland with the California Unification Process with old friends Charles Sharp and Jordan Glenn and host of new friends, August 3 at the Nihonmachi Street Fair with the Francis Wong Unit, and August 16 with Jon Jang's ensemble at the Chinatown Music Festival.

Hope to see you soon!

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Profile: Kioto Aoki

Kioto Aoki

Kioto will be joining the ensemble for Melody Takata's interdisciplinary performance work Shadow to Shadow on July 12 in San Francisco. In addition to performing taiko in the work, her photography is part of the visual component as well.

Kioto Aoki is a Shin Nisei Japanese American born and raised in Chicago. Fluent in English and Japanese, she is one of the few remaining original members of Tsukasa and has a career of over 14 years. She has contributed to Tsukasa Taiko's legacy as the first community taiko group in Chicago to perform in professional venues, playing at the old Hot House, Chicago Cultural Center and Asian American Jazz Festival by the time she was 12.

Currently Kioto is captain of the Gintenkai Unit, which features advanced members for larger performances such the annual Taiko Legacy Concert at The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; frequently works with renowned Chicago jazz musicians such as Mwata Bowden and Edward Wilkerson Jr., and went on her first international engagement to Poland in November of 2013. She is also pursuing shamisen as part of her education in tradition Japanese music.

Kioto specializes in analogue photography and film making as well, extending her commitment and involvement to the fine arts. She is attending The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and will graduate with a BFA. Her experimental, structural work in the visual arts shares the same aesthetic value with Tsukasa Taiko: One of preserving the artistic integrity of true art in the form of traditional image making and traditional Japanese music.

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Profile: Melody Takata

Photo by John O'Donnell

Melody Takata, Artistic Director of the upcoming interdisciplinary work Shadow to Shadow, is a multi-faceted artist trained in Japanese Classical Dance, Taiko and Shamisen.  Sensei Takata has been performing for over 20 years in Japan and U.S.A.  Ms. Takata grew up in the Japanese American community of Los Angeles with a rich experience in traditional arts. From age 8 she learned odori (Japanese dance) at the Nishi Hongwanji as part of the obon festival ritual (festival honoring ancestors).  At age 10 she began formal study of Nihon Buyo (formal name for Japanese classical dance) at the Fujima School and has performed dance at numerous theater works under Madame Fujima Kansuma until age 20.  From age 13 to 18 she studied shamisen with the Kineya School.  At 15 she began studying and performing with Los Angeles Matsuri and at 20 traveled to Japan to study and later perform as a member of Tokyo’s O Edo Sukeroku Taiko, one of Japan’s most highly renowned taiko ensembles. Ms. Takata completed the ACTA master apprentice program for 2002-2003 on shamisen with Hideko Nakajima Sensei.  Most recently, Ms. Takata has reestablished study with Madame Fujima Kansuma in Los Angeles to strengthen her integrity of Nihon buyo and to ensure a high standard of integration of odori into Gen Taiko’s repertoire. Click here for info on Shadow to Shadow coming July 12. Click here for info on the upcoming performance of Shadow to Shadow. #shadowtoshadow7_12

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July 12: Shadow to Shadow - A new work by Melody Takata

Integrating movement, text, projection, and music, this new interdisciplinary work by taiko artist and choreographer Melody Takata explores the nature of legacy in a rapidly changing cultural landscape. 

Featured collaborators include nagauta shamisen Grand Master Chizuru Kineya (Tokyo), filmmaker, bassist, and ozashiki shamisen practitioner Tatsu Aoki (Chicago), saxophonist Francis Wong, and theater artist Todd Nakagawa.

Co-presented by Asian Improv aRts, Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center, Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California, Nihonmachi Little Friends as part of Japan Week 2014

2 pm and 7:30 pm Shows!
July 12, 2014

Admission is free but seating is limited! Please reserve your place by RSVP'ing to http://japanweek.brownpapertickets.com/

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Next performance: Soy and Tofu Festival June 7 in SF Japantown

Saturday, June 07, 2014 at 01:05 PM
Japantown Peace Plaza in San Francisco, California

Saxophonist Francis Wong will be joined by sanshin perfomer Wesley Ueunten, vocalist Julie Beal, taiko performers Melody Takata and Veronica Sese at this fun annual event in San Francisco Japantown. For more info visit:

http://soyandtofufest.org

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ABC7 Community Affairs Salutes Francis Wong on Instagram

I am so honored by the salute by @ABC7newsbayarea for National Jazz Day and API Heritage Month! 

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Leon Sun Day in the Life of Asian Pacific Americans

Good friend and long time community cultural worker Leon Sun's submissions to the Day in the Life of Asian Pacific Islander America project of Smithsonian's APA program. I am honored to be one of his photo subjects! Click here to see his flickr page!

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Next performance - May 17 at the 2014 Asian Heritage Street Celebration

The Francis Wong Unit featuring Wong on saxophone, Karl Evangelista, guitar, John-Carlos Perea, bass, Karen Stackpole, drums, and guest Melody Takata, will perform at 1 pm on Saturday May 17 at the 2014 Asian Heritage Street Celebration. Admission Free. Click here for details.

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Francis Wong Unit to perform at Joice Street Celebration/Cameron Carnival May 3

The Francis Wong Unit featuring Wong, Karen Stackpole, John-Carlos Perea, and guest Yangqin Zhao will perform 3 - 3:30 pm and 4 - 4:30 pm on Saturday May 3 in Joice Alley between Clay and Sacramento around the corner from the CHSA Museum at 965 Clay St. as part of festivities including dragon dancing, dumpling making, line dancing, and games that day to kick off Asian Pacific American Heritage Month 2014 in San Francisco Chinatown. Read on... http://www.chsa.org/event/joice-alley-celebration-cameron-carnival/

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