In “Mai Ougi” with Yoshinojo Fujima and the Reduction Ensemble
THU NOV 9 | FRI NOV 10
Tatsu Aoki is a leading advocate for the Asian American community, as well as a prolific composer and performer of traditional and experimental music forms, a filmmaker, and an educator. Born in Tokyo, 1957 into the Toyoakimoto artisan family, a traditional house for training and booking agents for geisha. Aoki was part of his family’s performance crew from the age of four. In the late 1960s, he shifted his energies from the traditional to American pop and experimental music. By the early 1970s, Aoki was active in Tokyo’s underground arts movement as a member of Gintenkai, an experimental ensemble that combined traditional music and new Western forms.
In 1977, Aoki left Tokyo and is now one of the most in-demand performers of bass, shamisen, and taiko, contributing more than ninety recording projects and touring internationally during the last thirty-five years. Aoki is Founder and Artistic Director of Chicago Asian American Jazz Festival, which celebrated its twentieth year in 2015.
Aoki was named one of 2001’s “Chicagoans of the year” by Chicago Tribune for his music for his cross cultural music and has performed with masters such as Roscoe Mitchell, Don Moye, pipa virtuoso Wu Man, and the late Chicago legend Fred Anderson. Aoki’s suite ROOTED: Origins of Now, a four-movement suite for big band, premiered in 2001 at Ping Tom Memorial Park, and was performed at the Chicago Jazz Festival and at MCA Stage as part of Chicago Asian American Jazz Festival. Additional notable releases include Basser Live (1999) and Basser Live II (2005), recorded live at MCA Stage; The MIYUMI Project (2000), Symphony of Two Cities (2002), and Posture of Reality with Wu Man (2003). The Asian American Institute awarded Aoki the Milestone Award in 2007 for his contribution to Chicago-area arts. In 2010, he received the Japan America Society of Chicago’s Cultural Achievement Award as well as a 3Arts Artist Award. He received the “Living in our Culture” award by the Japanese American Service Committee in 2014 and the Jazz Heroes’ Award by the National Jazz Journalist Association in 2015. In 2016, his Miyumi Project ensemble was the official musical presenter for the unveiling of Yoko Ono’s “SKYLANDING” installation in Chicago’s own Jackson Park; which also resulted in the group recording the “SKYLANDING” album produced by Yoko Ono. In 2017 this year, the group contributed their unique vibe to the soundtrack of the film documentary addressing the Japanese American Incarceration, “And Then They Came for Us”. Additional accolades include Aoki’s own film “LIGHT”, which he directed, awarded the Best Experimental Film in the 2017 Canada International Film Festival. And most recently, he was selected by the Asian American Advisory Council of Illinois and received the Community Service Award from the Illinois Secretary of State; and he also received the prestigious Commendation for the Promotion of Japanese Culture from the Foreign Ministry in Japan, which is given to individuals with outstanding achievements in international fields, and acknowledges the recipients’ contributions to the promotion of friendship between Japan and other countries.