Mujo Suite

Three Movements for Jazz Orchestra, Taiko Drums and Shinobue


I. Foreword/Finale (0:00 - 16:26)

II. Prayer (16:26 - 25:47)

III. Prologue (25:47 - 44:48)

Featuring Eien Hunter-Ishikawa on taiko drums and shinobue



About the suite:

The name of the piece is called Mujo Suite. Mujo means "impermanence" in Japanese. It is one of the most important principles taught in Mahayana Buddhism. According to "Hannya-Shingyo" (The Heart Sutra), the most well-known text in Mahayana Buddhism, everything is constantly changing, and nothing is permanent. The catastrophic earthquake and tsunami that occurred in Japan on March 11, 2011 took thousands of lives away. It also caused Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Powerplants' triple meltdown.


There are still many people who have continuously been facing the various difficulties due to these natural and human disasters. As a native of Fukushima myself, this incident struck me in a deeper level. It is my hope that through performing this piece, I would like to keep raising awareness of the hardships Fukushima and other areas that were affected by tsunami as well as the radiation leakage. This is also a reminder to myself that I will not forget about these tragedies. I am dedicating this performance to the victims of these incidents as well as to the ones who have lost their lives in natural disasters around the world. It is very hard to imagine what it is like to lose loved ones in such tragic ways. But I know that everything in this world is Mujo (impermanent), and I believe that this philosophy will eventually heal all the suffering.  


Ensemble Personnel:

Masa Ishikawa (piano, conductor) Eien Hunter-Ishikawa (taiko drums and shinobue) Cole Peterson (alto/soprano saxophone) Nicholas Runyon (alto saxophone) Gabriel Sanchez (tenor saxophone) Austin Piper (tenor saxophone) Lucas Wymore (bariton saxophone) Odysseus Orr (trumpet/flugelhorn) Kevin Boehnke (trumpet/flugelhorn) Adam Bergen (trumpet Mason) Mason O'Brien (trumpet) Bjorn Swanson (trombone) Jake Greenlee (trombone) Ethan Shere (trombone) Wade Carter (bass trombone) Jonathan Eldridge II (piano) Brett King (guitar) Jilly Cooke (vibraphone) Jacob Pembelton (bass Giauna) Neville(drums)


Sound Engineers: James Edel, Chris Jensen, Ronald Lau  Videographer: James Edel

The performance was held at the University of Iowa Voxman Music Building Recital Hall, February 22nd, 2020


Many thanks to the University of Iowa School of Music (Jazz area /all other area faculty and all the staff members), the Center for Asian and Pacific Studies (CAPS), and the International Programs for their generous support to have made this performance possible. Also many thanks to Soten Taiko for letting us use their beautiful taiko drums.


It was also an honor for me to be on Eien's blog interview. During our conversation, we talked about our collaboration, Mujo Suite, my thoughts on using Japanese instruments into a jazz setting and many more. There are photos and video of his residency and performance of Mujo Suite on his blog post.