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A 'Dream' Album Becomes Reality : Japanese composer Kitaro and singer Jon Anderson of the rock act Yes team up in the studio and on the stage.

October 16, 1992|STEVE APPLEFORD | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Steve Appleford writes regularly for Valley Life

Singer Jon Anderson was already collaborating with the Japanese composer Kitaro before they met in Los Angeles five years ago. That's because the longtime vocalist of the progressive rock act Yes had been so moved by Kitaro's instrumental recordings, he says now, that he found himself singing along, with lyrics of his own creation.

So perhaps it was no surprise that when the two were introduced over dinner by composer Vangelis, another sometime-collaborator with Anderson, they were soon talking of making music together. "You become a brother, and you can't wait to work with each other," Anderson explains.

The first results of that collaboration finally emerged this year on Kitaro's "Dream" album, released on Geffen Records. The singer and composer will perform much of that material tonight at the Universal Amphitheatre, along with other work they've created independently throughout their careers.

On "Dream," Anderson provided lyrics and vocals for three of the album's 10 tracks, though his role is mainly that of vocal soloist. "Kitaro is really managing the band and is the coordinator of the music," Anderson says. "I'm just there having a good time singing. It's kind of nice, a little bit different from the norm. With Yes, I'm with the band, and we're working together. This is like singing with a modern orchestra."

Their work together on the project had actually begun at long distance: Kitaro would mail tapes or send faxes on ideas for the album from his mountaintop home in Colorado to wherever Anderson was at the time.

Later, after these musical ideas were ironed out, Kitaro recorded his instrumental tracks of electronic and acoustic elements before joining Anderson in a Hollywood studio.

"It was my dream," Kitaro says, adding that it was his first experience with a vocalist. Much of the music on "Dream" was originally designed as a film score for a Japanese film titled "Island of Life," he says. "I was thinking of the voice as the best instrument because you can control any dynamics. And I needed a vocalist."

The duo's live show has already toured Japan. And the American tour--with an ensemble that includes two violinists, three keyboardists, a guitarist, bassist, drummer and percussionist--will only pass through five cities, ending later this month in New York.

"With this kind of music, to hold an audience with 90 minutes . . . is just enough," Anderson says. "You don't want to go down the road too far. You just try and make it a good show, so we had to drop about 40 minutes of music already. The music never stopped."

When the tour ends this month, Kitaro will be back at work on another film score, before taking a trip to Tibet. Right now, he says he can't predict how much of his future music may incorporate vocalists, remarking only, "It's kind of interesting."

Meanwhile, Anderson says he'll be traveling to China, later returning to Los Angeles to continue work on the next Yes album, which will mark the band's 25th year together. It remains his highest-profile gig, even if it's actually only one of many projects he participates in every year.

'You wait till next year," Anderson says. "You won't believe what's going to happen. It's my 49th year. And I believe in numerology and all that stuff . . . so it will be over-the-top productive."

WHERE AND WHEN

Who: Kitaro with guest vocalist Jon Anderson.

Location: Universal Amphitheatre.

Time: 8:15 tonight.

Price: $22.50-$40.

Call: (213) 480-3232.

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