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Improvisational Percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani at IMC Tonight

Percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani is appearing tonight at the Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center (IMC). Nakatani, making a return to Champaign-Urbana, will be collaborating with two local musicians, Jay Eychaner and Nick Rudd, (who perform in Ferrocene 3) to provide an evening of improvised music. The all-ages concert begins at 7:30 p.m. and costs $6.

Nakatani, who is originally from Osaka, Japan, and is currently based out of Easton, Pennsylvania, is an international performer who has played with the likes of Ken Vandermark, Joe McPhee and Peter Brotzmann. He utilizes a drum set, bowed gongs, cymbals, singing bowls and metal objects to create a sound of his own that has roots in improvised/experimental music, free jazz and noise. Nakatani has created several of the percussion instruments that he plays, such as the large bowed gongs which will be featured in tonight’s show. Nakatani had this to say about the time, effort and process that went into creating the bowed gongs:


“I have been working on them pretty much all the time between tours. I spent a lot of time from my initial idea to finally being able to make a sound — it took me over three years. In that time I was always thinking about it when I was on the plane or train. I was always drawing the new setting and bow ideas on paper. I needed a hand-made bow for these huge gongs which does not exist in the market. So I made it from scratch, experimenting with many prototypes of varying styles using different wood materials and several gauges of strings. Also, I had to figure out the best way to hang the gongs. And of course, practicing many hours. I am finally taking this setting out from my house for this tour.”

Nakatani keeps a prolific concert schedule. He performs solo and also collaborates with other musicians. Friday night’s set-up with Jay Eychaner on keyboard and Nick Rudd on guitar came about from Nakatani’s connection with Jason Finkelman, Eychaner and Rudd’s band mate in Ferrocene 3, a local experimental group. Finkelman, who curates the Sudden Sound series that occurs each semester at the Krannert Art Museum, recommended Eychaner and Rudd when Nakatani got in touch with him regarding this tour.

Nakatani elaborated on building connections and playing with fellow musicians: “It takes years of meeting many people around the world. Touring places, meeting, playing together, hanging out, becoming friends and then getting to know friends of these friends. So I know a lot of musicians around, nowadays. The good thing about improvised music is that you are able to play spontaneously, and don’t need to practice every week with band members, so if an improvised musician decides to be a soloist and move around, it works, and that’s what I have been doing. That is how I could meet so many musicians locally.”

For this show, Eychaner said he and Rudd are preparing by playing a bit mainly to exercise their listening skills. Otherwise in regard to getting ready for an improvised performance, Eychaner stated “there isn’t a whole lot we can prepare for. That’s part of the fun — finding out, in the moment, how it turns out.” Eychaner added, “A gig can often be just as rewarding for the improviser as for the audience. I’ve never had a chance to play with Tatsuya before, so it’ll be a lot of fun to see what direction it takes.”

Similarly, Nakatani hopes the audience at the IMC tonight will “feel the music from the body, not just by ear. It is very important to listen to improvised music live.”

The concert is tonight, Jan. 16, at the Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center (IMC) located at 202 South Broadway in Urbana. It’s an all-ages show, and tickets are $6. Show starts at 7:30 p.m.

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