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Kagemusha Taiko | Brother Drum

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World: Western European World: Japanese traditional Moods: Type: Political
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Brother Drum

by Kagemusha Taiko

British and Japanese musicians combine with an eclectic selection of instruments in a song about reaching out and making friends across boundaries, be they geographical, racial or political.
Genre: World: Western European
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1. Brother Drum
4:51 $0.99
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Album Notes
Featuring a unique and eclectic mixture of Japanese and European instruments and an international line-up of musicians to match, “Brother Drum” is about reaching out and making friends across boundaries, whether geographic, cultural or political. The song was composed by Jonathan Kirby, artistic director of Kagemusha Taiko, who also produced this arrangement on which he himself plays taiko.

The other musicians on this recording are:

• Shogo Yoshii: Japanese flutes, taiko, and kokyu – a traditional Japanese string instrument and the only one played with a bow. Shogo was for 10 years a member of KODO, the world-famous Japanese drumming group. As a senior member of KODO, Shogo’s roles included artistic direction and composition as well as performance. For the past 3 years, he has worked as a solo artist.

• Damian Clarke: hurdy-gurdy, hammer dulcimer, and backing vocals. Damian was the founder member of British folk-rock group PressGang in which he was guitarist and lead vocalist. PressGang toured extensively in Europe, releasing 6 CD albums. Since 2012, Damian has been pursuing a solo career, playing mostly in Britain and Germany.

• George Whitfield: accordion and penny whistle. George was also a long-term member of PressGang. He now works as a solo artist, also performing as half of “Fiddlebox”, sharing vocal duties with Helen Adam who also plays violin.

• Oliver Kirby: lead vocals and taiko. Besides performing with Kagemusha Taiko, he was worked with TAIKOPROJECT in Los Angeles, and Portland Taiko in Oregon.

• Hibiki Ichikawa: tsugaru shamisen – the distinctive 3-stringed instrument played with a plectrum. Hibiki is the only professional player of this instrument in the UK, having qualified for a “Tier 1, exceptional talent” visa in 2015. He played shamisen for the soundtrack of the 2016 film “Kubo and the Two Strings”.

BROTHER DRUM was first performed in San Jose Repertory Theatre, California, in a production created by Jonathan Kirby leading the combined forces of San Jose Taiko Group and PressGang, having himself been a founder-member of that group with Damian Clarke. This was in August 1998, shortly after the state visit of the Emperor of Japan to the UK, during which British veterans turned their backs on him ceremonially, by way of expressing anger at the lack of an apology from Japan for the treatment of their prisoners of war.

The song was given new life when performed as a duet in 2016 by Shogo Yoshii and Oliver Kirby at a concert in London. Inspired by its continued relevance, Jonathan Kirby orchestrated the recording of the song in late December 2016, with this group of musicians who themselves embody the central message of the song.



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