Foremost American Taiko Artist, Kenny Endo, to perform in Tokyo on April 24 and April 30

Posted by Lia Chang

Master Taiko Artist Kenny Endo Photo by Lia Chang

Master Taiko Artist Kenny Endo Photo by Lia Chang


One of the foremost names on the American wadaiko scene, Kenny Endo, returns to Tokyo for 2 engagements on April 24 at Shibuya’s O-West and on April 30 at Minami Aoyama’s “Mandala.” The concert at the Mandala is called “Mitsudomoe – Mind, Body, Spirit.”

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Endo began early training in western drums and percussion. He began his taiko career with the first two kumi-taiko groups established outside of Japan – L.A.’s groundbreaking Kinnara Taiko, and then with the renowned San Francisco Taiko Dojo. In 1980, he embarked on a decade-long odyssey in his ancestral Japan, studying and performing with Osuwa Daiko, Sukeroku Taiko, Oedo Sukeroku Taiko, Hogaku Hayashi with Mochizuki Ryu, and Matsuri Bayashi with Maru Kenjiro He has the honor of being the first foreigner to have received a “natori” in hogaku hayashi.

In the greater musical world in America, “Kenny Endo” has become synonymous with the word “taiko.” He is one of the most versatile musicians in the genre, crossing easily between the traditional and his own globally-inspired style. Endo also has an MA in Ethnomusicology and is highly sought after for educational programs and workshops.

Endo has recorded five CDs of original taiko compositions and was a featured artist on the TV special “Spirit of Taiko” in America. He has performed for musicians Michael Jackson, and Prince as well as the late Princess Diana and Prince Charles. He has performed with Japanese musicians Hayashi Eitetsu (taiko), Sato Michihiro (Tsugaru shamisen), Semba Kiyohiko (percussion), Watanabe Kazumi (jazz guitar), Uzaki Ryudo (rock & roll), Koinuma Hiroyuki, Leonard Eto, Hirota Joji, John Kaizan Neptune, Christopher Yohmei Blaisdel, Amanojaku, and many others. He opened for The Who, performed a duet with singer Bobby McFerrin, and is featured on the soundtracks of Kayo Hatta’s “Picture Bride,” and “Francis Ford Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now.” He also recorded in motion capture suit for James Cameron’s “Avatar.” He has also performed as guest soloist with the Honolulu Symphony and the Hong Kong Philharmonic, traveling across Asia, Africa, Europe, Oceania, the former Soviet Union, and the Americas in his effort to share taiko with the world.

Endo performs with Tokyo’s Oedo Sukeroku Taiko on Sunday, April 24 at 12 noon at Shibuya’s O-West Live House. Tickets are: 3500 (advance) or 3800 (at the door).
For tickets, call: Denshi Chiketto Pia: 0570-02-9999 (P Code: 132-235)

Endo performs with a stellar ensemble on Saturday, April 30 at 7:30 pm at Minami Aoyama’s “Mandala” live house. Featured musicians will include: Semba Kiyohiko (drums, percussion), Hamada Hitoshi (vibraphones), Suzuki Kyosuke (yokobue), Takahashi Kaori (violin).
Tickets: 3600 yen
For ticket reservations, contact Mandala: 03-5474-0411
A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the victims of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami disaster.

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Other Articles by Lia Chang:
Photos and Video of Kenny Endo’s TAIKO THUNDER at Skirball Center in NYC