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Collaboration between Tango and Japanese Traditional music produced by Yokohama Noh Theater

The concert of the first collaboration of Pablo Ziegler (piano) and Dozan Fujiwara (shakuhachi) titled “Music Revolution” turned out to be a sensational concert that is true to its title.

The first set was programmed with solo and duo pieces by Dozan and Utanoichi Okuda (koto, 17 strings). Even for those who are not familiar with Japanese traditional music, once you hear the pieces composed by Shinichi Yuize (Grandfather of Okuda), Hozan Yamamoto (Mentor of Dozan who collaborated with flamenco and jazz artists including Masabumi Kikuchi and Chano Dominguez) and Michio Miyagi, the mentor of Yuize, it is obvious that there was an attempt of “Revolution” where they tried to create a fusion with western music without losing the respect to the tradition in 1950’s. Dozan who was born in 1972, followed that wave and has been collaborating with musicians from different genre. He was a big fan of Piazzolla and has played “Libertango” and “Oblivion” since he was young. The composition of Dozan “Kochi” was performed with Ziegler as a trio (piano, shakuhachi, koto) as a last tune of first set.

The second set featured Ziegler’s ensemble. As usual, the ensemble was formed by Satoshi Kitamura (bandoneon) and Toru Nishijima (double bass) as a core member. Quartet Excelsior included Yukiko Yoshida and Hajime Otomo who have long experience performing with Ryota Komatsu and surprisingly Tomohiro Yahiro (percussion) were invited. Along with the members who have vast experience in performing Piazzolla’s music, it was refreshing to see that Yahiro was breaking the spell of Piazzolla and added an even freer ambiance with a new color to the performance. After several years of observation of Ziegler’s performance, I come to realize that his true value is in his own composition rather than Piazzolla’s composition. Having said that, it’s unavoidable to mention that “Libertango” that included Dozan was a great performance.

The climax of this concert is Ziegler’s new composition of Suite “12 Horas” that has three parts “Dos Puertos (Two Ports)”, “Los Oceanos (The Oceans)” and “Reencuentro (Rencounter)”. The suite was performed with all the members and Kyonjun Ro (Japanese Percussion). It was three years ago when Yokohama Noh Theatre proposed Ziegler an idea to compose a new piece. The last time Ziegler visited Japan as a member of Piazzolla Quintet was in 1988 when they performed with Milva. Ziegler saw the traditional Noh performance at Noh Theatre that time and has become interested in Japanese traditional music since then.

Ziegler of course has a classical music language but having established his identity through the two big element of tango and jazz, this composition must have been a new challenge for him. At the reception after the concert, Ziegler and Dozan mentioned that this “three years” of maturation period was crucial for this composition. Ziegler took his time to develop the ideas and learned the structure and characteristics of shakuhachi and koto from Dozan and Okuda. Ziegler commented that he used three month to compose the actual music after deciding the format. Including the fact that Ro’s exciting performance of Japanese percussion was a complete improvisation, I want to give a huge applause to Ziegler who completed the composition with an exceptional fusion between Tango and Japanese traditional music with such richness and a big scale of artistry and also to the musicians for their extraordinary performance. Let’s look forward to Ziegler's future project.

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