Taiko Origin and History

Taiko means, “drum” in Japanese and “Uzume” is the Japanese Goddess of Laughter. Uzume Taiko is known around the world for its bold musical collaborations, humour and theatrical stage presence. They have hand crafted a unique brand of West Coast Canadian taiko drumming that offers a visual, sonic and sensual experience to their audience.

Since being formed in 1989, Uzume Taiko`s line-up has changed and expanded to compliment the development and evolution of the group. The current ensemble is composed of Artistic Director Bonnie Soon, Musical Director Jason Overy, performers Jordy Riley, Boyd Seiichi Grealy and Naomi Kajiwara. Canada’s first professional taiko drumming group has released seven CDs, a concert DVD and performed countless local, national and international shows and participated in teaching and sharing its knowledge of this musical art form at North American and Regional Taiko Conferences and while on their travels around the globe.

With its powerful synthesis of music, movement and theatre, Uzume Taiko has won fans throughout the world. Using a diverse collection of percussive and melodic instruments as well as taiko drums, Uzume Taiko has developed a dynamic fusion of old and new styles of drumming — bringing a vibrant, contemporary sensibility to an ancient art.

Uzume Taiko has collaborated with numerous artists over the years, spanning musical genres from Mainstream Rock/Pop acts to western classical symphonies to Scottish highland pipers and Hammond B-3 organ.

The Group’s desire to take artistic risks, and fuse its music with a myriad of like-minded fearless collaborators, has made for a unique, and refreshing musical experience unlike any other in Canada. To see Uzume Taiko is an experience. With the choreographed physicality of martial arts, the heart-stopping pulse of the O-Daiko and the rhythmic sensitivity of a jazz ensemble, the drummers of Uzume Taiko put on an exhilarating performance.

Internationally renowned, Uzume Taiko has performed throughout the United States, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Channel Islands and Japan, with performances at the Japan America Theatre in Los Angeles, the Lemon Tree in Aberdeen, Scotland, the Bath Festival in the UK and the Chautauqua Festival in New York State.  The group has also toured extensively across Canada to Newfoundland’s Wreckhouse Jazz, Soundshift and Sound Symposium Festivals and around the Lower Mainland at venues including the Vancouver Playhouse, the Vogue Theatre and the Vancouver East Cultural Centre, as well as at the Vancouver Folk Music Festival and the International Jazz Festival.

Uzume Taiko in collaboration with the Lorita Leung Dance Company / Chengxin Wei, choreographer: