Yumiko Tanaka and Dans les arbres

Project planned for September 2023

Japanese shamisen player and vocalist Yumiko Tanaka collaborates with French-Norwegian improvising ensemble Dans les arbres, presenting a special blend of elements from traditional Japanese music and contemporary improvised music.

Yumiko Tanaka – shamisen, voice    Christian Wallumrød – piano
Xavier Charles – clarinet     Ivar Grydeland – guitar     Ingar Zach –percussion

Since her debut performance in 1981 in Tokyo, Tanaka has been very active as a Shamisen player and vocalist, not only in the world of traditional Japanese music, but also in contemporary music, new music and theater. In 2009, she was certified as an important intangible cultural property as a member of the Gidayu-bushi Preservation Society. Dans les arbres is an improvising ensemble comprising French clarinettist Xavier Charles and the three Norwegians pianist Christian Wallumrød, guitarist Ivar Grydeland, and percussionist Ingar Zach. Together with Tanaka’s both conventional and unconventional style on shamisen and voice, Dans les arbres’ form unusual combinations of airy, wooden, metallic sounds, prepared strings, tampered drumheads, as well as echoes of Japanese puppet theatre – Gidayu-bushi.

Dans les arbres’ world of sounds and the fine sense of communication, lead to collective playing and spontaneous group-composing named to be in a “class of its own”. Their music moves gently but steadily ahead on broad planes of sound, often with a patience and timing that is reminiscent of the sounds in a Japanese kabuki theatre. The dynamic textural sceneries evolve as Yumiko Tanaka and Dans les arbres harnesses its wealth of unorthodox extended techniques.

Yumiko Tanaka
Tanaka’s credits range from performing with orchestras, such as Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, to collaborating with pioneers in the world of jazz and improvisation, including turn table player; Otomo Yoshihide, guitarists; Keiji Haino, Kazumi Watanabe, Elliott Sharp, John Russell, Jim O’Rourke, Kazuhisa Uchihashi, Seiichi Yamamoto, Makoto Kawabata, drummers; Samm Bennet, David Moss, Tatsuya Yoshida, SABU Toyozumi, Roger Turner, laptop musician; Carl Stone, sax players; Ned Rothenberg, John Zorn, Akira Sakata, Kazutoki Umezu, Naruyoshi Kikuchi, Yasuaki Shimizu, Axel Dörner, electronic musicians; Toshimaru Nakamura, Yoshimitsu Ichiraku, Aki Onda; basists; Motoharu Yoshizawa, Tetsu Saito, vocalist; Koichi Makigami, and conductor Butch Morris.

In the contemporary music scene, she premierd new pieces composed by Michio Mamiya, Hikaru Hayashi, Makoto Moroi, Yuji Takahashi, Michio Kitazume, Masahiro Miwa, Makoto Nomura, Motoharu Kawashima, Sachiyo Tsurumi etc.

Tanaka performed and acted in the music theater “Hashirigaki” directed by Heiner Goebbels and she was musical director and performer of the theater piece ‘dogugaeshi’ by MacArthur Genius Prize-winning puppeteer artist Basil Twist. Both pieces have toured in US, Asia and Europe and her contribution has received numerous awards.

Dans les arbres
Since the recording of their first album in 2006, Dans les arbres has performed more than 150 concerts around the globe. The two releases on ECM Records and one on Hubro – the self-titled debut Dans Les Arbres (2008), Canopée (2012) and Phosphorescence (2017) have received praise from reviewers and audiences alike. During autumn 2019 the group’s fourth album Volatil was released on the label SOFA and their albums Mausoleum and Live in Tokyo (with Yumiko Tanaka) was released on Bandcamp. Dans les arbres was nominated for the prestigious Nordic Music Prize 2015.

Dans les arbres have performed with guest musicians such as Yumiko Tanaka, Otomo Yoshihide, Jim O ́Rourke, the Norwegian duo Vilde & Inga and The Norwegian Wind Ensemble. Together with singers and Oslo Sinfonietta they performed the piece About Nature by Henrik Hellstenius at the Oslo Opera House in 2015.

“There’s no end to the delights of this quite magical disc. The finest composition, like improvisation, ultimately relies on intuition, and these players seem to have an innate grasp of the right combination of sounds and textures. Dans les arbres must be one of the finest ECM Improv releases – indeed, releases from any label – in recent years.” (The Wire)

Some relevant releases:
Dans les arbres & Yumiko Tanaka: Live in Tokyo (Self release on Bandcamp 2020)
Dans les arbres: Mausoleum (Self release on Bandcamp 2019), Volatil (SOFA 2019) Phosphorescence (Hubro 2017) Canopée (ECM 2012) Dans Les Arbres (ECM 2008)
Yumiko Tanaka: Tayutauta (IMJ 2004)