atsu Aoki is a leading advocate for the Asian American community; a prolific composer and performer of traditional and experimental music forms; and a filmmaker and educator. Aoki is founder and artistic director of Chicago Asian American Jazz Festival and president of San Francisco–based Asian Improv Records (AIR). Aoki was named one of 2001’s "Chicagoans of the year" by the Chicago Tribune. The Asian American Institute awarded Aoki the Milestone Award in 2007 for his contribution to Chicago-area arts, and in 2010, he received the Japan America Society of Chicago’s Cultural Achievement Award as well as a 3Arts Artist Award. He received the Living in our Culture award from the Japanese American Service Committee in 2014 and Jazz Heroes Award from the National Jazz Journalist Association in 2015. From December 13 - 19, Tatsu speaks, performs, and sponsors various culturally cutting edge works at the MCA. On December 17 at 7:30PM, Tatsu performs in "Reduction", a creative response to the popular taiko drumming stripped of its musical elements. Tatsu speaks to his role in "Reduction" in this installment of What's Your Story.
What's your personal story?
I came from Japan in the late '70's from traditional performing family known as geisha. I trained in Tokyo style geisha music. I came to Chicago to study experimental film and play music with legends!!
What story are you telling in Reduction?
It is a reconstruction of my music life and the works of Gintenkai Theatre, the troupe I was in from the early '70's to my coming to the States. The works contain my core aesthetics of my music and arts and feel it is important to preserve that tradition as a member of the Asian American community.
What challenges do you face telling this story?
This version is much more personalized than the previous 3 shows. I added a special part to talk about my life and evolution of the music I play.
Any other comments?
The musicians and dancers play real important rolls in this piece. They are cool, and way too cool!!
(Image Credits: Tsukasa Taiko, Reduction Photo: Ken Carl)