Tatsu Aoki

is a leading advocate for the Asian American community, as well as a prolific composer and performer of traditional and experimental music forms, a filmmaker, and an educator. Born in Tokyo, 1957 into the Toyoakimoto artisan family, a traditional house for training and booking agents for geisha. Aoki was part of his family’s performance crew from the age of four. In the late 1960s, he shifted his energies from the traditional to American pop and experimental music. By the early 1970s, Aoki was active in Tokyo’s underground arts movement as a member of Gintenkai, an experimental ensemble that combined traditional music and new Western forms.

In 1977, Aoki left Tokyo and is now one of the most in-demand performers of bass, shamisen, and taiko, contributing more than ninety recording projects and touring internationally during the last thirty-five years. Aoki is Founder and Artistic Director of Chicago Asian American Jazz Festival, which celebrated its twentieth year in 2015.

“Aoki (…) has not been alone in championing the exotic interweaving of Asian music and American jazz. But thanks to a relentless work ethic and a visionary’s approach to the art of improvisation, he surely has been the most influential.”

– Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune

Upcoming Events


Miyumi Project

At the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

220 East Chicago Avenue

Anne and John Kern Terrace Garden

July 23, 2019

Free Admission 5p.m. ~ 8:30p.m.

The MIYUMI Project, is one of the longest standing amalgams of Chicago’s avant-garde jazz and Japanese traditional music. Drawing from aesthetics rooted in the Japanese tradition, Japanese classical dance and Japanese taiko drumming, the essence permeates the laboratory of sound where he explores the nexus of cultures: Asian and American; Japanese and African; past and present. The improvised compositions provide a conceptual framework for each band member to interpret, which in turn coalesce and transform into a vast contemporary expanse of musical immersion for the audience. Over the past two decades, each successive grouping of MIYUMI Project musicians have contributed to the unique blending of modern application with traditional sensibility. The final result is a continuous evolution of a “live and raw” musical happening. The current MIYUMI Project members are Tatsu Aoki, Mwata Bowden, Coco Elysses, Avreeayl Ra, Edward Wilkerson Jr., Jaime Kempkers, and Kioto Aoki; featuring Tsukasa Taiko.

Tuesdays at the Terrace


Thursday, August 8, 2019 at 9:00 PM – 12:00 AM CDT  | THE WHISTLER

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