Spiritual Renovation Through Sonic Collaboration:  Musical explorations from the Japanese American Underground    


Scott Nagatani  

Scott Nagatan (pianist) – Scott has musical directed/produced for: Grateful Crane Ensemble, Children’s Museum of Los Angeles, East West Players, Keiro Nursing and Retirement Homes, Japanese American National Museum, Japanese American Cultural &Community Center, and Nisei Week. Composer credits: Living In the Story, Kimono in France, Visas & Virtue (Oscar winning live action short film), Day of Independence, Pawns of the King. Discography includes: I Saw Baachan Kissing Santa Claus, Shaku Horaku: Diva Collaborations 2010-2013, Booksongs, Nihonmachi: The Place To Be, Readers’ Theatre Project: Celebrating Children’s Books, East West Players Sings Sondheim, Claude Bolling: Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano. He has 75+ videos on YouTube featuring original musical adaptations of children’s books, including many bilingual (Japanese) arrangements.

Scott has been honored by the Asia America Symphony Association and the Japanese American Historical Society of Southern California for musical contributions to the community. He has won Ovation and Dramalogue awards for musical direction in theatre. He has produced music by/for children throughout Southern California and in Hiroshima, Japan. He studied classical piano and music theory with Nobuko Fujimoto through his early teens. He learned from every musician and singer he has ever had the pleasure of working with.

Tracy Wannomae  

Tracy Wannomae was born in Hawaii and raised in Los Angeles. He went to Dorsey High School and graduated with honors in music from Los Angeles City College. He studied saxophone privately with Phil Sobel and Vernon Martin.

He has toured extensively worldwide and has performed/recorded with:
Macy Gray, Rickie Lee Jones, Santana, Ziggy Marley, Alton Ellis, Ben Harper, Judy Mowatt, Aster Aweke, Me'shell Ndegeocello, Ras Michael, Wailing Souls, Bob Andy, Johnny Adams, Barbara Morrison, Spanky Wilson, Fathead Newman, George Clinton, Kelis, Solomon Burke, Irma Thomas, Mos Def, Madlib, Gary Shider, Dr Dre, Everlast, Jason Mraz, Arturo Verocai, Lauryn Hill, Aloe Blacc, Quadron, Rhye, Bare Naked Ladies, Sam Sparrow, Brad Meldhau, Billy Higgins, Robin Hannibal, Dave Sitek, and others.

Tracy has performed on such shows as The Late Show with David Letterman, Tonite
Show, Conan, Saturday Night Live, Today Show, The Grammy Awards, Brit Awards, VH1 and MTV Shows, etc.

Danny Yamamoto   Danny Yamamoto, also a Dorsey High grad, is a drummer, percussionist, Taiko player and one of the founding members of the Grammy-winning Asian American Jazz group, Hiroshima. Hiroshima has recorded twenty albums and continues to tour throughout the world. Along with many others, Danny has also had the pleasure of working with Billy Childs, the late Nate Morgan, bassist Nedra Wheeler, East/West Players, Nobuko Miyamoto, Kinnara Taiko, and The Grateful Crane Ensemble.

Taiji Miyagawa  

Taiji Miyagawa, bassist, studied classical and flamenco guitar as a child before discovering a connection between his experiences as a Japanese American and the music of African Americans, from the blues and eventually, jazz.  

During and after undergraduate work at the University of California at San Diego, he began playing the bass while collaborating extensively with the late composer and pianist, Glenn Horiuchi as they fused the artistic sensibilities of Thelonious Monk, Cecil Taylor and the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians with Japanese taiko rhythms and traditional Japanese melodic structures. Miyagawa recorded three albums with Horiuchi: “Next Step,” “Issei Spirit,” and “Manzanar Voices.”

He has also performed music within the context of small theater productions and has engaged in works with performance artists and poets such as Philip Kan Gotanda, Akilah Nayo Oliver, Denise Uyehara, Nobuko Miyamoto, Amy Uyematsu, Lawson Fusao Inada and others.

Occasionally, he is called upon to sit-in with the South Bay band, Fujazz, whom he has also recorded with.

David Cheung   David Cheung has played drums since the ripe old age of 13. From 1995-2005, he was the resident drummer at East West Players, playing in such shows as Pacific Overtures, Beijing Spring, and Follies, and both 1995 and 2005 productions of Sweeney Todd. He also played with the Big Band at UC Irvine where he spent a bit of time on stage with jazz greats James Newton, Lanny Morgan, and Bobby Shew. In the daytime, he makes pretty pictures of things that sometimes people build.
Photographs by Marcus Smith and Nancy Teramura Hayata


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