Free and open to the public

Closed for reinstallation

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Bridging the Gap: The Miyumi Project

Tatsu Aoki playing the bass

A live performance from Tatsu Aoki's The MIYUMI Project illuminates the drum traditions of Japanese taiko and jazz. 

Since the band’s formation two decades ago, Aoki has forged an exceptional and inimitable Afro-Asian musical hybrid. Presented in conjunction with Meiji Modern at the Smart Museum of Art, this performance incorporates the drummer languages of taiko and jazz. The MIYUMI Project fuses the Japanese taiko drumming tradition with first-class improvisers—who mostly herald from Chicago where Aoki has been based since 1979—such as woodwind specialists Ed Wilkerson and Mwata Bowden, experimentalist Jamie Kempkers, Tsukasa Taiko and others.

FREE, open to the public. Registration has closed. Walk-ins will be welcome as spaces allows. 


This program is presented in collaboration with EXPO CHICAGO as the official start of EXPO ART WEEK.

On Tuesday, April 9, explore a few of the other galleries, museums, and exhibition spaces in our dynamic community of arts and culture as Arts + Public Life, Blanc Gallery, DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center, Hyde Park Art Center, Logan Center Exhibitions, Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society, The Renaissance Society, South Side Community Art Center, and 4th Ward Project Space, among others, all open with late hours and other events throughout the evening. 

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About the performer

Tatsu Aoki is a leading advocate for the Asian American community, as well as a prolific composer, a performer of traditional and experimental music forms, a filmmaker, and an educator. In the early 1970s, Aoki was active in Tokyo’s underground arts movement with experimental arts and music. In 1977, Aoki left Tokyo and is now one of the most in-demand performers of bass, shamisen, and taiko, contributing to more than ninety recording projects and touring internationally over the last 35 years.  

As Executive Director of Asian Improv aRts MidWest (AIRMW), an Asian American cultural arts presenter organization, Aoki has initiated and managed several programs to advance the understanding of traditional arts and community through the arts, including the annual Chicago Asian American Jazz Festival, the Tsukasa Taiko Legacy, and the Toyoaki Shamisen arts residency projects. The concept of Legacy is very prominent in all of Aoki’s music and projects. He insists on demonstrating the authenticity of the Japanese Legacy using traditional instruments such as shamisen and taiko, especially with newer contemporary applications. He performs throughout the Chicagoland, the Midwest areas, and nationally, the driving point is to instill the importance of Legacy. His traditional Japanese drumming group, Tsukasa Taiko, is profiled as one of the most active and successful taiko drumming groups in the Midwest, producing a number of recordings, notably the annual Taiko Legacy performance. These and other projects are all components and examples of his drive to establish artist guided community participation as well as projects that have exclusive artist involvement, which raise the bar for quality and awareness of the Japanese cultural arts here in Chicago.