Sound It Out: “20 Questions” #12 — Satoshi Takeishi

Another installment of the recurring “Sound It Out: 20 Questions” feature on, with an artist answering a survey inspired by the famous Proust Questionnaire…

(Satoshi Takeishi, performing at Greenwich House. Photo: Bart Babinksi.)

Percussionist Satoshi Takeishi, born in 1962, is a native of Mito, Japan, but he moved to the U.S. at age 19 and has resided in New York City since 1991. He has explored myriad genres, ranging from multiple strands of jazz and various Latin styles to contemporary classical and experimental electronic music. His drumming is marked by rare fluidity, a vivid feel for color and the sound of surprise, evidenced particularly in his membership in the wondrously telepathic trio Renku alongside saxophonist Michaël Attias and bassist John Hébert. Renku recorded the beautiful album Live in Greenwich Village during a Sound It Out residency at Greenwich House Music School, in 2015. But Satoshi has played with artists from Eddie Gomez to Pablo Ziegler, from Lalo Schifrin to Eliane Elias, from Dave Liebman to Anthony Braxton, from the Toshiko Akiyoshi Big Band to the Metamorphosen Chamber Orchestra. Attias says about the drummer: “No matter what kind of music Satoshi plays, his own personality comes through.” He has performed for Sound It Out on multiple occasions – including as one of nine featured drummers in the June 2017 “Motian in Motion” tribute to Paul Motian – but Satoshi will make his debut as a leader on November 11, 2017, fronting his band Triptych with Erik Friedlander (cello) and Curtis Hasselbring (trombone/guitar), plus guest Shoko Nagai (accordion/piano). About his musical path, Satoshi says: “I have dealt with a lot of different kinds of music from around the world: Afro-Cuban, Brazilian, Colombian, other South American folk music, Middle Eastern, Eastern European, Korean. Some I’ve dealt with more deeply than the others, but all these different styles gave me great inspiration and sparked even more curiosity. I started to think about the connections among them – not from the perspective of ethnomusicology, but as an illustration of our common humanity.” — BB

  1. What was the first jazz album you fell in love with and stayed in love with?

Gnu High by Kenny Wheeler.

  1. What’s one of your all-time favorite non-jazz albums?

Abbey Road by The Beatles.

  1. What’s the last album you listened to from beginning to end – and did you like it?

For my own pleasure, it was Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants by Stevie Wonder. For research purposes, it was the Sonatas & Interludes for Prepared Piano of John Cage as performed by Maro Ajemian, as well as The Shamans of the Eastern Seaboard by the Kim Suk Chul Ensemble. Yes, I loved listening to these albums, whether for pleasure or research.

  1. What’s your favorite film score?

Kwaidan by Toru Takemitsu.

  1. What was the most recent concert – of any genre – that made you fall in love with music all over again?

YoonJeong Ha at Seoul National Theatre, South Korea.

  1. Which are your very favorite and least favorite venues for live music? Use three words to describe each.

My favorites tend to be community-run spaces that welcome you and are curious about what you do as an artist. My least favorite is any venue that complains that “not enough tickets were sold” before you even play a note.

  1. What’s your favorite quote about music?

“The act of listening is in fact an act of composing.” — John Cage

  1. If you could have a drink with any visual artist of the past, who would it be?

Uragami Gyokudo.

  1. What are the top three tools of your trade?

Listening, listening and listening. And I am still trying to master it.

  1. What’s your most indispensable piece of technology that isn’t music-oriented?

Computer technology.

  1. What are your top media sources of writing/opinion/news about music?

I stay away from any commercial media sources about music. However, when I do want to read about a particular musical subject, I search online for research papers.

  1. What non-musical/non-technological quality is most important to being an enduringly creative musician?

The constant desire to look for beauty and inspiration.

  1. What living person do you most admire – and what’s one quality he or she has that you most admire?

Nobody in particular, but I admire any person who continues doing his or her best even if their work is unrewarded or unrecognized. Humility is the quality I admire in such a person.

  1. What living person do you most despise – and what’s one quality he or she has that you most despise?

Nobody in particular.

  1. What’s your favorite place in the world?

I am not much of a nature person, but mountain villages in Japan are my favorite places – awesome, serene, mysterious.

  1. If you could live in another time period, when would that be?

I love history, so there are many periods I’d like to live in. But I do appreciate the period we live in now.

  1. What book would you most like to read again?

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

  1. What film haven’t you seen that you feel like you should?

Birth of Japan – Nihon Tanjo.

  1. What aspect of the past do you miss most – and what’s one thing you look forward to about the future that doesn’t yet exist?

The only past I know is my own, and I do not miss any aspect of it. I look forward to deeper wisdom in my future.

  1. What would you like your last meal to consist of?

A good, lukewarm Junmai Ginjo (sake) in a ceramic flask and cup of my choosing, with a few small seasonal dishes to accompany. At my home, wherever it may be.