Samurai Spirit is Here!

Samurai Drum IKKI

Greenside

From 02 August 2013 to 17 August 2013

Rating: ***

Review by Catherine Lamm

For those unfamiliar, taiko are the group of drums most associated with the ancient Japanese community which is highlight by the samurai culture and created originally for communication, to set the pace for marching armies and to frighten the enemy.

These drums range from the small, portable variety to the large one that look like they could hide a small community of drummers inside. Made of different woods and tacked to the body or lashed with rope and usually played with straight wooden sticks. In any form or size, when handled professionally they are very impressive.

Mostly drums, occasionally groups bring in masters of flutes and some stringed instruments. Training is obviously long and precise focusing on the formality of this art form and a reverence for the history and training; one feels like one is in a religious ceremony.

Predominately and historically a masculine group of musicians, the women, although still in the minority, take no back seat these days. Taiko groups range from the small with less rigid or formal performances to the larger groups, usually with very precise and elaborate choreography and sometimes accompanied by other musicians.

Although Samurai Drum IKKI is a very young group of musicians—two men and one woman—they are no less dedicated and steeped in the culture, tradition and art than the larger taiko groups. They are fierce and focused. The choreography of moving the instruments from one number to the next and into different locations on the stage is very polished and well executed. The lighting highlights the group well. One number features a very familiar melody played on a flute.

The most seasoned of the three makes this group extremely unique and seems to be the focal point. He has encompassed all of the traditional art form with techniques and rhythms worthy of very accomplished modern percussionist. He breaks during the fourth piece to play with his hands on the skins. He is a wonder to watch and this group is well worth seeing for the art and technique and worthy of following in the future.