World famous musician at Lviv's "JazzBez"

  • Tatsuya  Nakatani photo by Makoto Takeuchi
Issue 18, November 2009.

 Tatsuya Nakatani (percussion) is originally from Osaka, Japan. In 2006 he performed in 80 cities in 7 countries and collaborated with 163 artists worldwide. In the past 10 years he has released nearly 50 recordings on CD.

He has created his own instrumentation, effectively inventing many instruments and extended techniques. He utilizes drumset, bowed gongs, cymbals, singing bowls, metal objects, bells, and various sticks and bows to create an intense, organic music that defies category or genre. His music is based in improvised/ experimental music, jazz, free jazz, rock, and noise, yet retains the sense of space and beauty found in traditional Japanese folk music. In addition to live solo and ensemble performances he works as a sound designer for film and television. He also teaches Masterclasses and Workshops at the University level. He also heads H&H Production, an independent record label and recording studio based in Easton, Pennsylvania. He was selected as a performing artist for the Pennsylvania Performing Artist on Tour (PennPat) roster as well as a Bronx Arts Council Individual Artist grant.


Have You ever been in Ukraine? What do You know about musical culture of our country?

This will be my first time visiting The Ukraine. I am embarrassed that I don’t know much about The Ukraine… I am a Native-born Japanese living in the USA, so Ukraine is very far from culture I am in now. But I know they have a good cookies. I am touring in Mexico right now, my friend here told me that he has been to Ukraine. He said there is great a food, people are honest and there is most beautiful woman in the world.

When You were invited to come to “Jazz Bez” festival to Lviv, what influenced Your decision to agree?

hadn’t yet been to the Ukraine and I was very much curious to visit. Meeting with Ukrainian musicians and collaborating to make music together is very exciting things to me.

Please, tell what music compositions You will perform in Lviv and what are Your expectations of local audience?

I will be performing music by Improvisation and so I will have no prepared compositions. Musicians collaborate by not in a structured way, but by spontaneously composing music and playing. It’s called “Improvised music”, “Free Improvisation”, “Free music” and so on. I expect anyone in the audiences, with any type of music listening background will enjoy improvised music and it will be a totally new experience if someone has never heard this music.

What was the main factor for You to choose to be percussionist?

As I remember; I didn’t really choose percussion instruments specifically, but I was enjoyed very much playing it when I started to play drumset when I was in high school rock bands. There was a drumset and stick in front of me, so I just started to play and I liked it. Since then I have been a drummer, maybe I am now too. Now days I call myself a “percussionist” but not regular percussionist as people’s imagination (like Congas, Bongo, hand percussions etc..). I don’t use common instruments that people usually think of for percussion. There are many extended techniques: using bowed gong, singing bowls, cymbals and special sticks which is my own sound and these can make sounds you would never imagine coming out from percussion instruments.

You are known as inventor of musical instruments, how come ideas to create one or another item? Is it search of perfect sound for composition or curiosity to try something new?

I have been inventing more the sound itself by the way I use these extended techniques than by making instruments from scratch. I have selected and collected sound items and play them my way. Now I am reading your question again and again…. ” search of perfect sound for composition or curiosity to try something new?” --This is a very interesting subject for me. I am always searching for new sounds and interested in many sound objects but at the same time, I have feel very strongly that the items of my percussion instruments are bonded together like a family. So I just think that the combination of instruments is my perfect sound for composition. It might be that the Instruments setting is also the composition itself---(just realized this from your question!). In addition to “from-scratch material musical inventor” : This summer was a big challenge for myself because I began making/experimenting with “percussion bow”, because you can’t buy at the store as they don’t exist as a product. I made many of them with different materials of wood, strings, rosin and finishes.

You are often referred as improvisation music master, does the city where You perform plays any role for inspiration? And if yes, in what way?

When traveling around I feel each city has different tastes and languages in improvised music. I have no particular city that I inspires me specifically but I enjoy all the differences.

Annual “Jazz Bez” festival usually, attracts interest and huge audience, why in Your opinion, Jazz and free jazz styles are so popular in present days?

This is nice things to hear that Jazz Bez has a nice audience. I think there are many reasons that people are interested in this music nowadays compare with just 10 years ago. I maybe wrong but I can see it just from surrounding indicators myself. It maybe from new generation ermerging in the society, it could be political changes…. One thing it is not, is American corporations putting their money to advertise their products with Improvised music. It’s doesn’t work that way. Each Improvised music piece has been made from the deepest level of a human being and it’s organic. I guess now people are tired of eating artificial chemicals in their food, that is produced by someone who really doesn’t care for their body’s well-being and health. And people are thinking on a global level about ecology.

Please, tell our readers about Your future plans?

New recordings, developing my Huge-Bowed Gongs music, touring globally etc... I am very much excited and looking forward to participating myself at Jazz Bez. Working together with Ukrainian musicians, meeting people, talking, drinking, eating meals together and enjoying the city is big fun. I would like the Ukrainian audience to enjoy Improvised music, a first-time experience tor music fans of any age and any occupation! The formation of Improvised music is a global language, musicians open themselves and communicate with other musicians by an ancient way with their instruments. I would like all of the audience to participate, think together, enjoy together with us, our music!