Established in 2002 On Ensemble is one of the most respected ensembles in the taiko (Japanese drumming) world.
Led by childhood friends Shoji Kameda and Masato (Maz) Baba, On Ensemble is recognized for infusing the powerful rhythms of taiko with a wide range of musical influences from jazz and rock to central asian overtone singing. Their fearless musical exploration has expanded the artistic range of the taiko and has taken these ancient instruments into new realms. The group’s unique sound has been praised as “completely original and brilliantly conceived.” Modern Drummer magazine calls On Ensemble “an exciting taiko ensemble looking at new ways to apply traditional Japanese drums.” On Ensemble was the first American taiko group to be invited to perform at the National Theater of Japan for the prestigious Nihon no Taiko concert series.
Shoji and Maz were taught taiko at an early age (8 and 6) by Maz’ parents, accomplished taiko players and jazz musicians Jeanne Mercer and Russel Baba. The duo has been playing and making music together for over 30 years and are recognized as two of the brightest stars in the taiko world. With other members of On Ensemble they combine their study and deep appreciation of Japanese traditional music with equally formative experiences as DJs, electronic music producers, and rock bassists to produce, record and perform some of the most compelling and creative taiko music. The group has released three critically acclaimed albums, Dust and Sand, Ume in the Middle and Bizarre Heroes and their music was featured in the award winning short film Yamasong.
Shoji is currently working on the soundtrack for a full length Yamasong film production and the group is composing material for an upcoming album. On Ensemble is supported by one of Japan’s most important traditional-culture bearers, Miyamoto Unosuke Shoten, instrument maker to the emperor of Japan. This support empowers On Ensemble to utilize authentic, rare Japanese instruments in its fearless exploration of taiko.