Joji Hirota & Pete Lockett,
Taiko to Tabla
(ARC, 2004)

Pete Lockett and Joji Hirota may be two of the most prolific and diverse percussionists you've never heard of.

Lockett plays an incredible range of instruments all over the world, from Indian tabla to Middle Eastern frame drums, South American congas to Irish bodhran, Nigerian udu to Japanese taiko. His repertoire includes work with musicians of all genres, from pop and rock, classic and avant garde, jazz and blues, and traditional folk and world music.

Hirota sings, plays Japanese taiko, bells and cymbals, the m'bira (African thumb piano) and the traditional Japanese bamboo flute, the shakuhachi. He has worked with groups like Trisan, as well as with Chinese vocalist Gno Yue and ex-Clannad vocalist Pol Brennan.

Lockett and Hirota combine their considerable percussive talents on Taiko to Tabla, a unique fusion of traditional world music performed with an impressive array of percussion, sound effects and vocals, as well as the aforementioned shakuhachi. The ARC Music production booklet included with the recording proves indispensable to educate the listener (in four languages, no less) about the wealth of instruments on this album.

The classical pair of tablas may be known around the world, but even the most enthusiastic percussion fans are probably less familiar with instruments like the kanjira, an Indian lizardskin tambourine, or the kin, made of metal bowls struck with a leather-covered stick and used in Buddhist temple prayers.

Traditional music and instruments from around the world are blended throughout the album. The opening track "Kokiriko-Bushi," a traditional Japanese tune originally sung by rice-field workers, is fused with Lockett's tabla playing, and "Solan-Bushi," a fisherman's song from Hokkaido, combines shakuhachi and Nigerian ugu.

The other tracks are original compositions by Hirota and Lockett. Lockett shows a multitude of influences on "Seventh Element of Glaciers" and combines breathtaking vocal percussion with the sound of an alarm clock on "First Thoughts." Co-written tracks include the hauntingly beautiful thumb piano piece "M'Bira Dreams," the awesome South Indian vocal percussive theme "Korvai on Chennais Sandy Shore," the quite traditional-sounding "Invocation, from Past to Present," and the fusion of Indian and Japanese hand cymbals on "Chappa Chappa Ki-da-ta-ka." "Pageant II" is a taiko to tabla track, which has its origin in the Japanese harvest festivals.

If, like me, you're a fan of percussion instruments and appreciate the wonderful sound of Asian music, you'll love this album. It may even make you add a pair of tablas to your own collection.

- Rambles
written by Adolf Goriup
published 23 October 2004

Buy it from