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The COMPASS Group > June 2011

Emily DavidBy Emily David Translated by Angel Pu Photos by Scott Chen & Douglas Habecker

Emily David is DJ at International Community Radio Taiwan (ICRT).

T-Bone & Yasu's musical 'conversations' create magic

T-Bone & Yasu's musical 'conversations' create magic

T-Bone & Yasu's musical 'conversations' create magic
T-Bone & Yasu play at Retro

T-Bone & Yasu's musical 'conversations' create magic

It's rare to meet someone and have an instant connection, but that's exactly what happened with the unlikely musical pairing of T-Bone & Yasu, the performing duo comprised of Canadian musician and radio host Terry Engel and Japanese producer and percussionist Yasuhiro Toda.

The two met four years ago at a gathering of musicians, during an exhibition performance of Yasu and his Cajon (a Cajon is a box-shaped percussion instrument originating in Peru). They met, they jammed, they clicked – and they've been performing together ever since. One might wonder how they got on so well, especially since neither spoke the other's language at the beginning. But their natural camaraderie helped things along, and while they relied on friends to translate in the past, the duo has seemingly mastered the art of simple communication.

Catch a T-Bone & Yasu show around Taiwan, and you will see right away that the biggest attraction is the fact that they are quite unlike any other act in town. Heavily influenced by progressive music (T-Bone) and world music (Yasu), they present a repertoire of technical and complicated songs that are never performed the same way twice. Their shows evolve on stage and are rarely rehearsed; they rely on their "onstage signals" to lead each other into certain sections, or to clue each other in on when the time signature or tempo will change.

T-Bone describes each performance as an "hour-long concept or conversation", and insists that the reason it works so well is because he and Yasu "talk" to each other with their music and instruments. It's a very different and impressive dynamic, and it's something you will have to see for yourselves. You can also witness their effortless partnership online: A few years ago, filmmaker Don Quan approached T-Bone and Yasu about making them the subjects of a documentary film. Search YouTube and you will find the trailer for the finished product, aptly titled, "T-Bone & Yasu: The Unlikely Duo".

For more info on upcoming T-Bone & Yasu performances around Taiwan (including Taichung), visit http://www.tboneandyasulive.com/. You can also hear Terry "T-Bone" Engel on the ICRT Morning Show, live on ICRT FM100.1, or on www.icrt.com.tw, weekday mornings 8-11 a.m.

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