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Article

Adams, Bryan  

Michael Ethen

(Guy)

(b Kingston, ON, Nov 5, 1959). Canadian rock singer, songwriter, and guitarist, and photographer. The son of a diplomat, he spent his youth in England, Israel, Portugal, and Austria. After returning with his family to North America, he began performing and recording at the age of 15 with rock bands in British Columbia and Ontario. In 1978 he began what became a long and successful songwriting partnership with Jim Vallance, with whom he created most songs recorded under his name up to 1987, as well as songs recorded by Rod Stewart, Kiss, Bonnie Raitt, Neil Diamond, and the Canadian groups Prism, BTO, and Loverboy.

Adams’ albums characteristically alternate between down-tempo piano ballads and straight-ahead rock numbers. His third solo album, Cuts like a Knife (1983) launched him to the status of an international celebrity; its singles included the ballad “Straight from the Heart” and the anthem “Cuts like a Knife,” which both featured for weeks on magazine charts and music television. The next album, ...

Article

Akiyoshi, Toshiko  

J. Bradford Robinson

(b Dairen, China, 12 Dec 1929). Japanese jazz composer, pianist, and bandleader.

She was born to Japanese parents in Manchuria. She began classical piano at seven and was playing professionally in her teens. She studied classical music and turned to jazz only in 1947 after moving to Japan. There she was discovered by Oscar Peterson, who urged her to take up a career in the United States. After studying at Berklee College of Music (1956–9) she became a highly regarded bop pianist, especially in groups with the alto saxophonist Charlie Mariano (to whom she was married from 1959 to 1967). She worked in Japan (1961), joined Charles Mingus in the United States (1962–3), then returned to Japan until 1965. In 1973 she founded a large rehearsal band in Los Angeles with the tenor saxophonist and flautist Lew Tabackin, whom she had married in ...

Article

Fontamillas, Jerome  

Mary Talusan

(b Philippines, June 20, 1967). Keyboardist and guitarist of Filipino birth. He immigrated to the United States and grew up in California. He studied piano from early childhood and became proficient on several instruments, including keyboards, guitar, bass, and drums. In 1988, he joined the industrial band Mortal Wish, which changed their name to Mortal in 1992 when they were signed. Before the band broke up in 1996, Fontamillas released seven albums with them. He then formed the industrial rock band Fold Zandura with friend Jyro Xhan. After their breakup in 1999, he joined the alternative rock band Switchfoot as a keyboard player. By 2000, Fontamillas began to tour with Switchfoot shortly before the release of their third CD Learning to Breathe, which received a Grammy nomination for Best Rock or Rap Gospel Album. In 2002, he reunited with Mortal and released the album Nu-En-Jin featuring Switchfoot’s Jon Foreman as guest vocalist. Fontamillas became an official member of Switchfoot in ...

Article

Gurtu, Trilok  

Rick Mattingly

(b Bombay, Oct 30, 1951). Indian jazz percussionist. He studied classical tabla from the age of five and also imitated the rhythms of American pop music. After being exposed to jazz as a teenager, Gurtu assembled a makeshift drumset from a variety of percussion instruments and began working in Bombay with jazz bands, playing briefly with the alto saxophonist Charlie Mariano. After a trip to America in 1977 with Indian pop singer Asha Bhoshle, Gurtu settled in Hamburg, Germany, and worked with jazz cornettist Don Cherry, guitarist Phillip Catherine, violinist Lakshminarana Shankar and bass player Barre Phillips. In 1982 he taught at the Creative Music Studio in Woodstock, New York, and then toured Europe with the percussionist Nana Vasconcelos. In 1984 he joined the group world music Oregon, then in 1988 toured with his own group, which included Vasconcelos and Mariano. He next worked for four years with the jazz guitarist John McLaughlin, whose high-energy jazz trio was the ideal showcase for Gurtu. His set-up combines an American jazz drumset with the Indian ...

Article

Horiuchi, Glenn  

Loren Kajikawa

(b Chicago, IL, Feb 27, 1955; d Los Angeles, CA, June 3, 2000). American jazz pianist, shamisen player, and composer. Influenced by avant-garde jazz, he incorporated Japanese scales, rhythms, and instrumentation into an improvisatory setting and was integral to the development of Asian American jazz. Released through Asian Improv and Soul Note, much of his music was inspired by the Japanese American experience. His albums Manzanar Voices (1989, Asian Improv) and Poston Sonata (1992, Asian Improv) take their names from internment camps where Japanese Americans were imprisoned during World War II.

Although born in Chicago, where his parents had relocated after leaving the internment camps, Horiuchi spent most of his childhood in Southern California. He attended the University of California at Riverside and San Diego, pursuing a career in mathematics before dropping out to devote himself to music and politics. His first recordings, including Next Step...

Article

Hsu, Eric  

Wendy F. Hsu

(b Taipei, Taiwan, Dec 15, 1973). Rock musician and songwriter of Taiwanese birth. Hsu moved to Houston, Texas, with his family in 1989. His brother, Kevin Hsu, was a pop star in Taiwan who signed to Golden Point/BMG. Self-taught in guitar, keyboards, voice, and drums, Hsu formed in 2001 the alternative rock band Johnny Hi-Fi, which has toured extensively in the United States and Asia. As a songwriter Hsu writes songs in both English and Mandarin Chinese. He has collaborated with Taiwanese recording artists and producers and has had success overseas. His song titled “Don’t Go,” performed by Richie Ren, reached the top 10 pop music chart in Taiwan. Hsu also has toured with Taiwanese rock musician Chang Chen-Yue on his US tour in 2004.

In 2004 Hsu began organizing the Asian Rock Fest in recognition of Asian American Heritage Month in May. An annual festival series, Asian Rock Fest has brought together Asian American artists and showcased rock music talent including Eyes Like Knives, Kite Operations, Carol Bui, Burning Tree Project, Festizio, Vudoo Soul, Jack Tung, and Johnny Hi-Fi. The first Asian Rock Fest took place at The Pianos in New York. The festival continued to feature Asian American musicians after Hsu’s relocation to the west coast in ...

Article

Ibarra, Susie  

Mary Talusan

(b Anaheim, CA, Nov 15, 1970). American jazz percussionist and composer. Of Filipino heritage, Ibarra grew up in Houston, Texas. She received a music diploma from Mannes College and a BA from Goddard College. She studied drums with Buster Smith and Vernel Fournier and percussion with Milford Graves. She also played with William Parker and his big band, The Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra. In the 1990s, Ibarra became interested in Philippine musical traditions and took lessons on kulintang from master artist Danongan Kalanduyan. She joined the avant-garde free jazz quartet led by David S. Ware and became well known in the New York jazz scene. She collaborated on several albums with a number of respected musicians such as Assif Tsahar, Cooper-Moore, Charles Burnham, Chris Speed, Wadada Leo Smith, and Pauline Oliveros, notably on the album ...

Article

Inoue, Yosuke  

Kazunori Sugiyama

(b Osaka, Japan, July 16, 1964). Japanese double bass player. After first playing electric guitar he changed to electric bass guitar as a member of a high school band; he became interested in jazz through the influence of Jaco Pastorius. While studying composition at Osaka College of Music he performed jazz in local clubs. Following his graduation he moved to Tokyo and joined Motohiko Hino’s group, though he also performed and recorded with Masahiko Sato, Masami Nakagawa, Yosuke Yamashita, Terumasa Hino, and others. In January 1991 he settled in New York, where he accompanied such musicians as Abraham Burton, Hank Jones, Cyrus Chestnut, Don Friedman, Carmen Lundy, Eddie Daniels, Dewey Redman, Lee Konitz, Louis Hayes, and Michael Carvin, and recorded as a member of the cooperative Japanese quintet Inside Out (1992), a Japanese and American hard-bop group, the Jazz Networks, led by Roy Hargrove (1995...

Article

Izu, Mark  

Lars Helgert

(George)

(b Vallejo, CA, Sept 30, 1954). American composer and bass player. He studied bass as a youth with Charles Manning and then under Charles Siani at San Francisco State University, where he received a BA in music. He also studied Japanese gagaku music with Togi Suenobu and has become proficient on the shō, sheng, and other Asian instruments. Izu has performed with Cecil Tayor, Steve Lacy, and James Newton, and has been an important figure in Asian American jazz. He was a founding member of the groups United Front and Anthony Brown’s Asian American Orchestra, performing on the latter’s Grammy-nominated recording of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn’s Far East Suite (1999, Asian Improv). He has also worked with Jon Jang’s Pan Asian Arkestra. Izu has served as artistic director of the Asian American Jazz Festival and on the faculty of Stanford University’s Institute for Diversity in the Arts....

Article

Jackson, D.D.  

S. Timothy Maloney

[Robert Cleanth Kai-Nen]

(b Ottawa, ON, Jan 25, 1967). Jazz pianist and composer with dual Canadian-American citizenship. Of mixed African American and Chinese heritage, he was called Di-di (Mandarin Chinese for “little brother”) at home. He studied classical piano at Indiana University (BMus 1989), jazz at the Manhattan School of Music (MM 1991), and later had private tuition with Jaki Byard and Don Pullen in New York, where he has lived since 1989. He began playing with David Murray and Billy Bang in the early 1990s and has played frequently with Murray in both small-group and big-band settings since then. He has toured internationally and has performed with such notable musicians as Nat Adderley, Jack DeJohnette, Dewey Redman, and James Spaulding. A virtuoso who recorded Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue for Summit Records in 2002, Jackson has also made 9 albums of mostly his own material for RCA and Justin Time ...

Article

Kazassian, Vili  

Claire Levy

(b Sofia, 8 Dec 1934; d Sofia, 12 July 2008). Bulgarian conductor, composer, pianist, and arranger, of Armenian origins, remembered for his prominent role as a musician and public figure in the development of popular music in Bulgaria. He graduated from the Technical University in Sofia (1957) and studied in the Faculty of Theory at the Bulgarian State Conservatory. In 1953 he joined the band Jazz of the Young. By the end of the 1950s he played the piano also at the Satiric Theatre Orchestra and founded Studio 5, a band famous for its supportive role in promoting young singers. Following a similar purpose, later on he initiated Trombata na Vili (‘The Horn of Vili’), a radio contest for discovering new talented pop singers. Since 1960 Kazassian’s music activities have been closely associated with the newly created Big Band of the Bulgarian National Radio where he took successively the positions of pianist (...

Article

Mahanthappa, Rudresh  

Nicholas Higgins

(b Trieste, Italy, May 4, 1971). saxophonist of Italian birth. Of South Asian descent, he grew up in Boulder, Colorado, and started playing alto saxophone at age 11. He studied briefly at North Texas State University and received his BM from the Berklee College of Music; he later earned a master’s degree in jazz composition from DePaul University in Chicago. After moving to New York in 1997, Mahanthappa played a crucial role in the pianist Vijay Iyer’s quartet in the 1990s and early 2000s and produced four unique projects with his own quartet. One of these, Mother Tongue (2005), used tonal transcriptions of phrases from Indian languages as melodic source material for his compositions; another, Codebook (2006), applied cryptographic methods to musical composition.

Mahanthappa’s subsequent music has featured other alto saxophonists. His project with Bunky Green (2010) featured the pianist Jason Moran, the bass player François Moutin, and the drummers Damion Reid and Jack DeJohnette. The Dakshina Ensemble, his project with the South Indian musician Kadri Gopalnath, combined jazz and South Indian classical-music ensembles. A two-saxophone project, Dual Identity, featured the alto saxophonist Steve Lehman as well as Reid, the bass player Matt Brewer, and the guitarist Liberty Ellman....

Article

Modirzadeh [Modir], Hafez  

Mark Lomanno

(b Durham, NC, May 3, 1962). American saxophonist. He has used both Modirzadeh and Modir as professional names. The child of a Persian father and an American mother, he lived in many places during his youth. While completing his PhD in ethnomusicology at Wesleyan University, where anthony Braxton was among his professors, he developed his theory of chromodality, which theorizes possibilities for improvisation among multiple tuning systems and cultural traditions. In addition to his writings, this theory is applied in his album, In Chromodal Discourse (1993, X Dot 25). Modirzadeh has worked as a professor of jazz and world musics at San Francisco State University and maintained an active presence in the Bay Area. He has collaborated with the pianist Jon Jang, the saxophonist Fred Ho, and the percussionist Anthony Brown. He and the multi-instrumentalist Royal Hartigan recorded a soundtrack for the poet Nathaniel Mackey’s work Song of the Andoumboulou...

Article

Motian, (Stephen) Paul  

Michael Baumgartner

(b Philadelphia, PA, March 25, 1931; d New York, NY, Nov 22, 2011). American jazz drummer and composer. He grew up in Providence, Rhode Island, where he began playing guitar and drums at the age of 12. During the Korean War he studied at the Navy School of Music in Washington before being stationed in Brooklyn from November 1953. After his discharge in September 1954 he moved to New York, entered the Manhattan School of Music and took private lessons on drums and timpani. In the mid- to late 1950s he accompanied various musicians, including Tony Scott, Stan Getz, Oscar Pettiford (in both his quintet and big band), Lennie Tristano, Lee Konitz, Al Cohn and Zoot Sims. In 1956 Motian began collaborating with Bill Evans, appearing on the pianist’s first album. Subsequently he was the drummer in Evans’s first and second trios (1959–64). He continued his career as an experienced drummer of piano trios, first with Paul Bley’s group (...

Article

Noge, Yoko  

Megan E. Hill

(b Osaka, Japan, 1957). Jazz and blues pianist, singer, and composer of Japanese birth. She took piano lessons briefly as a child and was exposed to the blues while growing up in Osaka in the 1960s and 1970s. As a high school student, she formed the Yoko Blues Band with classmates. The band earned some success, winning first prize and a recording contract in a television-sponsored contest. In 1984 she moved to the United States to pursue a jazz and blues career in Chicago. Initially a singer, she studied piano with boogie, blues, and jazz pianist Erwin Helfer. In the early 1990s Noge established the Jazz Me Blues Band, which has played regularly in Chicago since its formation. In addition to Noge on piano and vocals, the ensemble has included Noge’s husband, Clark Dean, on soprano saxophone, saxophonist Jimmy Ellis, trombonist Bill McFarland, and bassist Tatsu Aoki. In addition to playing more conventional jazz and blues, Noge has made a name for herself through the unique compositions she has written for the group, which meld Japanese folk music styles with Chicago blues. Active in the broader Asian American community, she cofounded the Chicago Asian American Jazz Festival in ...

Article

Shankar, Anoushka  

Alison Arnold

(b London, England, June 9, 1981). Indian sitār player and composer, daughter of ravi Shankar . Like her father, she is a solo classical performer and an innovative composer and collaborator, exploring musical fusions of the Indian and Western classical traditions and global popular styles.

She began taking sitar lessons with her father when she was nine, studying exclusively with him. At age 13 she gave her debut sitār performance in New Delhi, and made her first recording of North Indian classical music on her father’s four-disc compilation In Celebration (1996). She toured and played sitār with her father while still in high school. At 16 she performed her father’s Concerto no.1 for Sitar and Orchestra with the LPO under Zubin Mehta. In 1997 she conducted an Indian orchestra for her father’s collaborative recording with George Harrison, The Chants of India.

One year before graduating from high school, she released her first solo classical album, ...

Article

Tanaka, Seiichi  

Paul J. Yoon

(b 1943, Tokyo, Japan). taiko master of Japanese birth. He is widely regarded as the father of North American Taiko. He first traveled to the United States in 1967 and noted the absence of taiko drumming at Japanese American festivals in San Francisco and elsewhere. Determined to change that situation, Tanaka returned to Japan to study with, among others, Daihachi Oguchi, founder of Osuwa Daiko. Tanaka returned to the United States and in 1968 opened the San Francisco Taiko Dojo, the first school of its kind in America. It is Tanaka’s oft-stated goal to make taiko as well known as sushi or karate.

Since his initial training, Tanaka has studied with Susumu Kowase (Sukeroku Taiko), Shosaku Ikeda (Gojinjo Taiko), and Kiyohiko Fukuhara (Yokobue flute) and has also trained in kabuki dance and martial arts. The breadth of this training in drumming, dance, flute, and martial arts has made him a major influence for nearly every North American taiko player. In addition, Tanaka has always been open to teaching anyone, with no restrictions on age or gender, so long as they can withstand the rigorous physical conditioning he demands of his students....

Article

Uehara, Hiromi  

Mark Lomanno

(b Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan, March 26, 1979). Japanese pianist. Hiromi began piano studies at age five with a teacher who encouraged her to improvise and introduced her to the recordings Erroll Garner, Oscar Peterson, and Art Tatum. In her teenage years, she performed with the Czech National Symphony, and in Tokyo at the personal invitation of Chick Corea, with whom she has maintained an ongoing collaboration. After briefing studying law, she relocated to Boston in 1999 and enrolled in the Berklee College of Music. Richard Evans, her composition and arranging professor, shared a recording of hers with Ahmad Jamal, who, along with Evans, produced her debut CD, Brain (Telarc, 2003). Known for her masterful virtuosity (which invites comparisons to another mentor, Oscar Peterson), genre-crossing arrangements, and imaginative, highly energetic live performances, Hiromi constantly refines her orchestration of sonic possibilities—using keyboards with individually crafted sounds and the full range of all the instruments in her ensembles, such as in ...