Drumspeak: Taiko Ensemble in Los Angeles
Traditional and contemporary taiko styles for the concert stage and recording studio
Drumspeak is a blend of traditional and contemporary taiko styles combined with versatility on stage, in the recording studio, and in the classroom. The duo of David Wells and Isaku Kageyama has toured South America, recorded for A-list video game Ghost of Tsushima, and are proud to be instructors at Los Angeles Taiko Institute.
David and Isaku took very different paths that eventually led them to play together. David grew up playing clarinet in Baltimore under the guidance of his father, a professional jazz musician. David later attended Stanford University where he discovered taiko.
Isaku grew up playing taiko in Tokyo under the guidance of Mr. Yoichi Watanabe, founder of renown taiko ensemble Amanojaku. Isaku eventually attended Berklee College of Music to expand his musical vocabulary beyond taiko.
Drumspeak represents two distinct journeys that have merged to tell musical stories informed by an eclectic range of music styles.
World Percussion Ensemble of Los Angeles
The World Percussion Ensemble of Los Angeles is a collective of award-winning percussionists coming together to celebrate the wealth of world drumming traditions.
The diverse ensemble features Clarice Cast, Daniel Feldman, Dramane Kone, and Isaku Kageyama, accomplished percussionists in drums originating in Africa, South America, Middle East, and Asia.
World Percussion Ensemble of Los Angeles (WPELA) is more than drums from around the world sharing the stage together. It’s also about people from different cultural backgrounds cooperating and creating work that is greater than the individual. It’s about sharing with, learning from, and respecting our neighbors with whom we share the planet.
The music of WPELA is truly a multicultural experience and a celebration of diversity. The WPELA is proud to call the cosmopolitan city of Los Angeles their home.
OBON CLASSICS: JAPANESE FOLK MUSIC ENSEMBLE
Traditional Bon Odori (Obon Festival) music celebrating ancestral spirits
Sumie Kaneko, David Wells, and Isaku Kageyama perform folk songs associated with the Bon Odori, a festival celebrating ancestral spirits.
Bon Odori songs can be about a prayer for a good harvest or catch, local pride in a geographic region, or describe the way of life of a group of people. As a religious ceremony, the Obon Festival celebrates the spirits of our ancestors. And from a cultural standpoint, it’s a time for people to visit family that signals the end of summer.
Obon Classics has been featured in a virtual concert presented by Taiko Community Alliance, as well as in a lecture demonstration hosted by Japan Foundation New York. In 2021, the trio composed, recorded, and produced Makoto Ondo, a song in the style of Bon Odori for Makoto Taiko in Pasadena, CA. Sumie, David, and Isaku are honored to share their music through these organizations.
“Obon Classics” album available free of charge to support Obon Festival organizers and enthusiasts everywhere.