Hamid Drake with Michael Zerang, Eigen Aoki and Tsukasa Taiko Drummers directed by Tatsu Aoki
Artist-in-residence Hamid Drake and fellow Chicago percussionist Michael Zerang have a long history together, whether playing in the original lineup of the Peter Brötzmann Chicago Tentet to their long-running duo which has played a series of pre-dawn Winter Solstice concerts December for the last 22 years. Their collaboration with Eigen Aoki and the Tsukasa Taiko youth unit only began last year with a thunderous, evocative concert at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Aoki, the son of Chicago bassist and filmmaker Tatsu Aoki (who directs the group) has emerged as a muscular virtuoso of the traditional taiko drum from Japan.
Rather than the free time abstractions they explored with Brötzmann or the mesmerizing frame drum meditations they finesse every December, here Drake and Zerang lock into the pummeling Japanese grooves with visceral energy and power. Much of the set will be built from traditional taiko repertoire, but improvisation figures heavily in the versions these musicians kick out.