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Review of: Taiko to Tabla
Live at the Corn Exchange, Newbury

Review from: Newbury Weekly News [May 20 1999]

What do you call someone who hangs around with musicians? A drummer. This jibe underlines the difference between your average drummer and these two consummate musicians, who gave an exhilarating evening of virtuosic percussion playing.

If anyone imagined they would get bored by the sound of just drums for a whole performance, then Peter Lockett and Joji Hirota, two percussionists with awesome reputations, dispelled any doubts in the first number, a gentle piece combining a hand-held Arabic tom-tom and African thumb piano, to weave a melody which captivated a perhaps initially sceptical audience.

The stage set was a visual fascination of exotic percussion instruments. It was fun trying to identify their function and possible sound. The instruments were divided into two collections, with Peter Lockett playing a combination of Japanese and Middle Eastern instruments, and Joji Hirota, with a complete traditional set of Japanese percussion, as well as a vast array of African-based instruments. Joji Hirota also plays bamboo flute and African thumb piano, which added an essential musicality to the inevitable preponderance of percussion sounds.

The programme varied from gentle, sensitive pieces to thunderous, grand, monumental crescendos, most of which involved highly arranged orchestration. Very little of the work was in any sense free form, and much involved complex rhythm patterns which, nonetheless, one could stay with throughout.

These two musicians played together with perfect synthesis, giving the impression of musical mind-reading at times. A pleasure for me was the variation from one piece to the next; we were taken on a journey of discovery of the huge musical possibilities within drums, gongs and cymbals, whose range was extended by such techniques as bowing on the cymbal edges, use of the voice and a very clever juxtaposition of material from India, Japan, the Middle East and Africa. These two are not purists in any sense; they eclectically mix influences to obtain whatever effect they seek.

The subtlety of tuning of this plethora of instruments underpinned the surprising musicality of the work. Seeing these two play live was a musical surprise and delight, and this performance extended my view of the possibilities of pure percussion work. Gavin Wilkinson

Translations of the Belgium press reviews - Bruges Festival, 98:

Extracts from: De Standaard (05-02-98)

"The subtlety of Joji on the shakuhachi, and Peter Lockett on the timpaan were fascinating until the last minute. The concert started quiet, until the shakers and cymbals announced a spectacular percussion session. Hirota on congas and Lockett on tabla.

Even during the most heated moments of the well built up performance, the two maestros stayed disciplined and controlled. Hirota never gave the impression that his limit was reached. The interaction between the two musicians was perfect. Lockett played his Indian 'tals' with a hundred percent of knowledge. Real climaxes!

The last part of the concert was a strong physical demonstration: both played on the Japanese Taikos. Sometimes we heard the Kodo sound, but the way Taiko To Tabla played in pure musical terms, that made the difference.

Extracts from: Het Nieuwsblad (06-02-98)

"Eleventh Bruges Festival starts in overdrive"

"Taiko To Tabla gave a sublime and memorable start."

"One is a percussionist from the Japanese tradition, Joji Hirota, the other is Peter Lockett, who found his musical roots in India. Together they make the formation Taiko To Tabla. And what they bring is pure beauty."

"...a ballet of fluttering hands on different percussion instruments..."

"...also visually astonishing..."

"...the standing ovation of the audience was what they deserved..."

"The opening concert of Taiko to Table was legendary" - Het Nieuwsblad (10-02-98)



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