Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Toshi Makihara

Jack Krick is an old friend, a one-time colleague of mine at IBM, the primary volunteer these days responsible for updates and expansions to the Electronic Poetry Center, and a resident in a large old craftsman-era masterpiece of a house maybe half an hour south of here. About once every month or two, Jack has evenings with readings & music. On Saturday, Colin & I headed down to Jack’s to hear the latest installment. We didn’t get to stay the entire time, but did get to hear Ryan Eckes & Kim Get Lin Short give great readings. You can read some of Eckes’ Common Sense series, which he read from, by clicking the link under his name.

There was also an amazing performance by master improvisational percussionist Toshi Makihara. Makihara tackles the drums with the inventiveness of a Cecil Taylor or Jimi Hendrix – anything the equipment can do is fair game. He’s played with everyone from John Zorn, Nels Cline, Eugene Chadbourne (who is to the electric rake what Makihara is to the drums), William Parker, Amy Denio & Thurston Moore. On Saturday he used everything from his feet to blank CDs wedged into a spring (stretched over the drum) to a slinky as he played three, or maybe 3.5 pieces on the little green side drum he uses in his his Solo365 project, about which more below. Makihara explained that while most drummers add drums to expand their range, the sounds they can achieve, he has lately been trying to do so the other way, by expanding what he brings to the drumhead. He also commented that he thinks of the drumhead as a stage and that his work with dancers – he has been collaboraing with the Leah Stein Dance Company for over twenty years – informs how he understands this space.

You can get a great sense of all this by checking out Makihara’s YouTube channel. He’s currently putting up roughly one improvisation every day this year – I haven’t found one yet that didn’t totally transport me – which by now is turning into an amazing body (pun intended) of work! Here’s a piece he recorded earlier last Saturday: