- Yoko Suzuki
(b New York, NY, Feb 23, 1963). American jazz and classical tuba player. Growing up in a Puerto Rican family in Red Hook, Brooklyn, Rojas was familiar with the music of Eddie Palmieri and Willie Colón. Other early musical influences included uncles who performed on percussion and the trombone. He started to play the trombone in elementary school and switched to the tuba in junior high school. Strongly encouraged by a band director at his junior high school, he was accepted into New York’s High School of Music and Art. Subsequently, he continued his tuba training at the New England Conservatory, where he met trumpeter Frank London and joined his group, Les Miserables Brass Band. After graduation, he moved back to New York and started to work with a wide variety of musicians in different settings, including bassist Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra, composer-saxophonist Henry Threadgill’s Very Very Circus, trumpeter Lester Bowie’s Brass Fantasy, and the Metropolitan Opera. Working in Threadgill’s band, which included two tubas, allowed him the freedom to play melodies in the upper register. He has developed nontraditional techniques for tuba playing, such as using the instrument’s body as percussion. In recent years, as an instrumental part of the New York experimental jazz and creative music scene, he has performed with groups including saxophonist Tony Malaby’s Tuba Trio, saxophonist Michael Blake’s Hellbent, and trumpeter Dave Douglas’s Nomad. He has taught and given master classes at New York University, SUNY Purchase, and Brooklyn College....