Taiko Jam Spotlight: On Ensemble and Shogo Yoshii

We’re back with another edition of our TaikoJam Spotlight series. This week, we’re featuring another TaikoJam 2017 artist, On Ensemble!  They will be performing with taiko artist, Shogo Yoshii. We’re very excited to add them to our lineup for this year’s concert.  Read on to learn more about these amazing artists.


Established in 2002 On Ensemble is one of the most respected ensembles in the taiko (Japanese drumming) world. Led by childhood friends Shoji Kameda and Masato (Maz) Baba, On Ensemble is recognized for infusing the powerful rhythms of taiko with a wide range of musical influences from jazz and rock to central asian overtone singing. Their fearless musical exploration has expanded the artistic range of the taiko and has taken these ancient instruments into new realms. The group’s unique sound has been praised as “completely original and brilliantly conceived.” Modern Drummer magazine calls On Ensemble “an exciting taiko ensemble looking at new ways to apply traditional Japanese drums.” On Ensemble was the first American taiko group to be invited to perform at the National Theater of Japan for the prestigious Nihon no Taiko concert series.

For all of their avant-garde musical explorations, On Ensemble is supported by one of Japan’s most important traditional-culture bearers, Miyamoto Unosuke Shoten, instrument maker to the emperor of Japan. This support empowers On Ensemble to utilize authentic, rare Japanese instruments in its fearless exploration of taiko.

Shogo Yoshii was a member of taiko performing arts ensemble Kodo. He entered the Kodo Apprentice Centre in 2003 and became a Kodo member in 2007. Before Kodo he had traveled Japanese countryside to study folksong and tribal music in Japan. On stage in Kodo, he is featured on taiko drums, metallic percussion, bamboo flutes, kokyu (Japanese violin) and in dance pieces. In 2010, he joined the musical ensemble of “Babel (words),” choreographed by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Damien Jalet.

In the same year, he was music director and performer in Arte y Solera’s flamenco piece, Dojoji. His original composition Sora is used in a textbook for Japanese elementary school students. He is also involved in the choreographer Cherkaoui’s performance Noetic a,d is currently touring with Fractus V, the newest production of Eastman/Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. He performed in Avignon festival at Palais des papes d’Avignon last year.