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Asian American Improvisation in Chicago: Tatsu Aoki and the 'New' Japanese American Taiko

Deborah Wong

Published: 2006-05-01

In this essay, Deborah Wong looks at Aoki's recent work in order to consider the place of the Asian/American in the world of American improvisation and public presentation. Aoki's long-term involvement in the (Asian) American creative improvisation scene is well known, but his more recent work with a Chicago taiko group suggests that the interface between the 'traditional' and the 'experimental' can create new forms of community-based transnational performance. Complex issues of Asian American identity and its articulations through musical improvisation are explored through interviews with Chicago bassist Tatsu Aoki and members of Tsukasa Taiko.

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Listening itself, an improvisative act engaged in by everyone, announces a practice of active engagement with the world, where we sift, interpret, store and forget, in parallel with action and fundamentally articulated with it ("Mobilitas Animi" 113).

– George E. Lewis