Asian/American Improvisation in Chicago: Tatsu Aoki and the ‘New’ Japanese American Taiko

Deborah Wong


In this essay, I look at Aoki’s recent work in order to consider the place of the Asian/American in the world of American improvisation and public presentation. Aoki’s long-term involvement in the (Asian) American creative improvisation scene is well known, but his more recent work with a Chicago taiko group suggests that the interface between the ‘traditional’ and the ‘experimental’ can create new forms of community-based transnational performance. Complex issues of Asian American identity and its articulations through musical improvisation are explored through interviews with Chicago bassist Tatsu Aoki and members of Tsukasa Taiko. The article includes detailed analyses of three pieces from Aoki’s Basser Live II project, supported by video and audio examples.

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Critical Studies in Improvisation / Études critiques en improvisation is generously supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (through both its Major Collaborative Research Initiatives and Aid to Scholarly Journals programs) and by the University of Guelph Library.
ISSN: 1712-0624