“Nagata Shachu primal drum concert an unforgettable experience.”

Full Review.

Ken Keaton, Palm Beach Daily News


“The physical intensity of their performance, as well as their mechanical efficiency and almost inhuman rhythmic accuracy, was unstoppable. That it could be done with such unique grace of movement and confidence is wholly unbelievable; athletic fireworks stippling the Elora Festival’s worthy closing ceremony.” Full review.

Dawn Stevenson, The Guelph Mercury


“An emotional and exhilarating two hours of thunderous and hypnotic drumming.”

Full Review

Tammy Wilson, Bancroft Times


“To say they played with mechanical precision would sound too sterile; while meter perfect, their minimalist style spoke more of humanity’s quest for spiritual perfection.”

Tim McCloskey, The Lance


“The focus of the ensemble is to rejuvenate this ancient art form with modern interpretations. The result is rhythm-driven sound with an exciting visual component. The musicians are also athletes. Playing the over-sized drums through a series of choreographed movements that look like synchronized martial arts. It’s possible that Nagata composes the soundtrack to a good ass kicking”

Alli Marshall, Mountain Xpress North Carolina


“April 18th saw the return of the Kiyoshi Nagata Ensemble to Lake Superior State University for a tremendous night of traditional Japanese drums and music which helped every one of us catch a golden glimpse of the Land of the Rising Sun. The drum’s haunting melodies reverberated across the Arts Center bringing the hearer into a different place into the enchanting aura of Japan. Each of the musical pieces was a work of genius combining the old with the new…”

John Petkus, The Compass Online LSSU


“One of Saturday night’s highlights was the five-member Kiyoshi Nagata Ensemble, a Japanese taiko drum group, who combined synchronized dance moves with their hammering beat. They received a standing ovation from the hundreds who watched from portable chairs or who lounged on the grass.”

Kevin Grasha, Lansing State Journal, MI


“The beat of the traditional Japanese drums reverberated through the soles of feet, massaged backs, and changed the rhythms of hearts…”

Sarah Bissonette, Parry Sound North Star


“The compositions and expert playing made for an evening of revelatory music; tourniquet-tight story telling on various Japanese drums properly known as Taiko….the various solos performed throughout the show by all the members were focused and tight, leaving the audience cheering throughout the numbers much as with a jazz show audience. And this is important, as there is a degree of improvisation in the numbers. Whereas some compositions for percussion [and jazz] can fall into alienating self-indulgence, each performance by the Kiyoshi Nagata Ensemble was an electrifying surprise; edge of your seat stuff.” 

R. Glenn Curry,


“Thrilling rhythms from a freestyle Japanese drum solo backed by flute and bass drum beat by the Kiyoshi Nagata Ensemble opened the evening (Dancers for Life at the Hummingbird Centre).”

Janice Mawhinney, Toronto Star


Review of Nagata Shachu’s production IROHA in Ottawa in Carleton University’s Charlatan


Feature article in the Toronto Sun. (Oct 9, 2006)


“…an extremely varied and nuanced spectrum of sound and rhythm”

Full review.

Karen Ages, The Wholenote (on the CD ‘Kiro’)


Feature article in the Hamilton Spectator. (Nov 15, 2006)

“It’s another credit to this cosmopolitan city that one of the world’s most interesting Japanese taiko drumming ensembles hails from Toronto. Since 1998, the nine-person group, headed by Kiyoshi Nagata has consistently added new layers of invention to the traditional drumming-and-dancing repertoire.”

Full review.

John Terauds, Toronto Star


“What makes these performers irresistible is their extremely high level of musicianship evidenced in their virtuosic technique, discipline, precision, and energy. At the same time there is an air of humility and grace as they enthusiastically bound around the stage assuming various percussion configurations. …The effect was a spectacular visual and aural display, as well as a wonderful celebration of Japanese life and culture. In response, the crowd sprang to their feet with their own boisterous display of inevitable rhythm, sound and celebration.”

Full review.

Stephen Preece, The Record (Kitchener)


“The Kiyoshi Nagata Ensemble took the audience by surprise with their Japanese taiko drumming and flawlessly choreographed performance. Kiyoshi’s simplicity and precision was riveting, especially during Aki Takahashi’s spotlight on vocals and the three-stringed shamisen.”

Anna Ash, Michigan Daily


“…packed with intricate costume designs, mesmerizing rhythms and jaw-dropping precision.”

Kimberly Fu, Scene and Heard


“Ace musicianship and innovative song structure aside, this is all about the power of subtlety and silence.”

Errol Nazareth, Eye Weekly (on the CD ‘Kiro’)


“…the exciting Japanese percussion group, the Kiyoshi Nagata Ensemble, made its first gala visit (Dancers For Life at the Hummingbird Centre). Nagata’s group is both multicultural and cross-gender, and it was wonderful to see a young woman take on the huge taiko drum.”

Paula Citron, Globe and Mail


“Particularly commanding was the performance by internationally renowned drummers Kiyoshi Nagata Taiko Ensemble. Such energetic and powerful artistry was a treasure to experience.”

Multicultural Association of Nova Scotia


“By the sounds of the thunderous clapping, the Japanese Drums Show was an audience favourite. The show was put on by a Toronto-based group called the Kiyoshi Nagata Ensemble, named after the leader of the group. As the band pounded away on their taiko drums, the audience sat quietly in their seats, mesmerized.”

Bridget Roussy, The Online Pioneer (Bellville)


“…a beautifully spare solo album…”

Erin Hawkins, Eye (on the CD ‘Tenkai’)


“Gone is the melody and the beat, but the memory lives on… If you were part of the wall-to-wall audience who crammed the Mill Race Amphitheater, watching the river run by and listening to the sensational Kiyoshi Nagata Ensemble, you’ll know what I mean. They’re one of the few groups in North America who own and play on a full set of authentic taiko (Japanese drum). And what a sound they produce. The Ensemble gave us powerful music, beautiful in it’s simplicity, with relentless, energetic rhythms that hypnotized the audience. Well, at least enthralled and entranced us. The Festival couldn’t have ended more dramatically.”

Margaret Hitchcock, Old Chestnuts Song Circle Newsletter


“For those who are not acquainted with the talents of this group or the melodic beauty that the Taiko represents, I need only two words to describe the experience: simply breathtaking… One needs only to meet the determined eyes of each performer in order to gain a sense of their dedication and ability. Undoubtedly, these artists have stocked up endless hours of rehearsal time to display this level of skill and talent. Like a musical mantra, the many tones created by the Taiko drummers became a vehicle that could transport the audience to worlds of serenity, anticipation, and excitement.”

Greg Brown, U of T Underground

“Nagata Shachu is one of our city’s musical treasures…  I’ve seen the group, led by Canadian-born taiko master Kiyoshi Nagata, several times over its history and its performances are invariably filled with a high level of ensemble musicianship coupled with mental and corporeal discipline.”

Andrew Timar , Whole Note


“…Nagata’s tremendous passion and discipline constantly manifests itself in mesmerizing performances.”

Errol Nazareth, Toronto Sun


“As the five-member taiko group took to the stage, the powerful sounds the slight drummers generated were astounding. At times, arms moved so quickly they were but a blur, and then they slowed, becoming majestic synchronized movements – perfect percolating percussion.”

Olga Boutsis Herrmann, Scarborough Mirror


“Nagata can carry off both the technique and showmanship needed to make the taiko drums sing.”

Paula Citron, Globe and Mail


Preview of Nagata Shachu’s production IROHA in the Nov 5 edition of the Toronto Sun


“…even with the name change, it was hard not to identify the distinctive sound of the group, and moreover, their flawless execution of complicated sets like that of their recent performance.”

Kimberly Fu, Scene and Heard


“Worthy of special mention from Friday’s sets [Ann Arbor Folk Festival]…folk-drumming troupe Kiyoshi Nagata Ensemble, whose athletic performance was amazing to eye and ear.”

Roger Lelievre, Ann Arbor News


Feature article in the Globe and Mail. (Oct 13, 2006)


“Their attitude of meticulous care and pride is striking. It is what captivates the audience from the moment the musicians walk on stage to perform. Power sweetened by restraint is magnetic. …Every pulse is packed with subtle inflection. Each drummer seems to be speaking in a very specific way through his or her drum. It’s like listening to a story. The rhythm builds as one cycle of sound is superimposed upon another. There’s a natural yet highly organized structure to what we’re hearing. The kind of structure you hear in a thunderstorm, or see in a sunrise.”

Kristen John, U of T Underground


“Nagata’s wonderful karate-kata-like playing of the chappa (small cymbals) was simply fascinating. And not just for the variety of rhythms and tones he could produce, but in the ceremonial athleticism of the playing itself.”

Hugh Fraser, Hamilton Spectator


“The thoughtfulness Nagata invests in his art isn’t just evidenced in how gongs, flutes, shakers and Japanese cymbals perfectly compliment the ensemble’s battery of drums. It’s also in how he titles his albums. Koku, by the way, means ’empty sky’.”

Errol Nazareth, Eye Weekly (on the CD ‘Koku’)


“…traditional Kodo discipline best displayed in Nagata’s hypnotic solo piece and an apocalyptic show closer.”

Matt Galloway, Now


“Employing fourteen different types of drums, bells, gongs as well as Shinobue (Japanese Folk Flute) Nagata’s studio album, Tenkai, combines wonderfully spare moments of rhythmic intricacy with the loud forcefulness of deep drumbeats. Because taiko drumming is so unique when played live, the album isn’t attempting to reproduce that sound onto disc. By employing the flute and stressing the subtleties of taiko drumming, Tenkai, produces a sound that will seep into your brain when you think you’re paying attention to something else and produce a relaxing sensation.”

Max Ritts, The U of T Varsity (on the CD ‘Tenkai’)


“It’s a percussionist’s delight.”

Geoff Chapman, Toronto Star (on the CD ‘Tenkai’)