A life-long search for sound has infused percussionist Taki Masuko’s unique musical voice with a world of flavors: first, combine Afro-Cuban, Arabic, and Turkish traditions into a hearty base, then stir in a dash of klezmer. Mix well with Max Roach. Add a pinch of flamenco and a hint of Celtic bodhran. Beat together with a splash of Monk and a smidgen of Eastern European brass band. Blend with Ginger Baker and Rahsaan Roland Kirk. Simmer over low, steady flame. Enjoy.
Taki's quest began in the 1970’s , when playing with the Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra exposed the recent conservatory graduate to the sonically-adventurous work of Krzysztof Penderecki and Harry Partch. Fascinated with its colors and textures, Taki experimented with incorporating the dialect of contemporary orchestra percussion into his own free-form compositions. He left Japan in 1979 to study improvisation in the Department of Third Stream Studies at the New England Conservatory in Boston, MA.
There one passion led to another. Love of groove moved Taki to explore global folk music traditions. Curiosity about indigenous instruments led Taki to learn frame drums, dumbek, congas, quiro, and other hand percussion. Studying West African drumming and dancing awoke Taki to the crucial connection between music and movement.
Then one opportunity led to another. Answering a knock on his practice room door introduced Taki not only to a modern dancer seeking a musical counterpart, but to a new means of exploring gesture, sound, and improvisation, setting him on the path of becoming a much-lauded modern dance accompanist and internationally-regarded music and movement clinician.
Playing music on the streets of Cambridge led Taki to encounter violinist Johannes Amon, who, together with multifaceted string maestro Andy Blickenderfer, would form Sabana Blanca and improvise music for silent films.
Accepting an invitation to give a salsa clinic at a dance camp connected Taki to a group of young musicians reinventing “old time” American music. In the thirty years since, Taki and The Horse Flies have made music by twisting time, blending the old and borrowed with the bold and new. Twining fiddle tunes, modern art/alt rock influences and world sounds, The Horse Flies are beloved by audiences and critics world-wide for their electrifying groove-driven “waka-waka” music. (Taj Mahal)
Now, the beat goes on. An active performer, accompanist, teacher, and sound-seeker, the Boston-based, gypsy-hearted Taki continues cultivating his unusual vocabulary, seeking fresh ground for creative collaboration and keeping his ears open to possibility.