Ryo Kawasaki

Ryo Kawasaki (ChuanQi Liao, Kawasaki Ryo) was a Japanese jazz-fusion guitarist, composer, and band leader. He is best known for creating the guitar synthesizer with Roland Corporation and Korg. His album Ryo Kawasaki u0026 the Golden Dragon Live was among the first digital recordings. He also created the Kawasaki Synthesizer (Commodore 64). He played in various Japanese jazz bands and formed his own bands during the 1960s. He moved to New York City in the 1970s and began working with Ted Curson, Chico Hamilton (Elvin Jones), Chico Hamilton, Ted Curson, Joanne Brackeen, and Gil Evans. Kawasaki began writing music software for computers in the 1980s instead of performing music. He produced several dance singles in techno, founded Satellites Records and returned to jazz-fusion later in 1991. Ryo Kawasaki was conceived in Tokyo on February 25, 1947. Japan was still recovering from its post-World War II period. His father, Torao, was a Japanese diplomat, who worked at The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 1919 to his death. Torao was active as an English teacher, translator, and interpreter for official diplomatic conferences. He worked at many Japanese consulates and embassies including San Francisco, Honolulu and Fengtian (then the capital of Manchuria), Shanghai and Beijing. Hiroko, Ryo’s mother was multilingual and could speak English, Russian, English and Chinese, in addition to her native language Japanese. Hiroko was born in Manchuria, and met Torao in Shanghai. Ryo was born to Torao at the age of 58. Kawasaki was encouraged by his mother to learn piano and ballet. He started voice and solfege lessons at the age of four, and began violin lessons at five. By fifth grade, he was already reading music. He was a grade scholar and began to be fascinated by electronics and astronomy. He built his own radios and TVs as well as audio systems, including speakers and amplifiers. Ryo bought his first guitar at age 14 and a ukulele when he was 10. Ryo was inspired to study jazz by listening to Midnight Blue by Kenny Burrell, Stanley Turrentine and other artists. He began to hang out in coffee-houses with live music and formed a jazz group. Later, he built an electronic organ that could be used as a primitive synthesizer. He was 16 when his band started playing professionally in strip bars and cabarets. He continued to play music and he went on to Nippon University where he studied quantum physics. He also earned his Bachelor’s of Science degree. Although he failed to prove his main interest, he did prove his intuitive belief that speed (acceleration), gravity is greater than speed light. He was also a teacher and judge at Yamaha’s jazz school, which is a manufacturer of musical instruments. He also worked as a sound engineer at Japanese Victor Records and BGM/TBS Music, where he learned editing and mixing. When he was 22, he recorded his first solo album with Polydor Records. He continued to perform with his jazz band and was voted No. Kawasaki was voted the No. 3 Japanese jazz guitarist in a poll. He spent most of his time as a studio musician, performing everything from pop songs to advertising jingles. When he was 24, he recorded his second album with Toshiba. B.B. was also present. He played with B.B. King at a blues fest and also met George Benson (they jammed at Kawasaki’s for five hours). He has also recorded and collaborated with many Japanese jazz musicians, including drummer Takeshi Inomata, Sound limits, saxophonist JiroInagaki, saxophonist Keiichiro Emizu, saxophonist Seiichi Ebisawa, saxophonist Seiichi Nagura, pianist Masahiko Sato, saxophonist Hidehiko Motomoto (Song Ben Ying Yan ), saxophonist Hidehikophonist Hidehikophonist Hidehikophonist Hidehikophonist Hidehikophonist Hideshi Inophonist Ying Yan Ying Yan Ying Yan saxophonist Hidehikophonist Hidehikophonist Hidehikophonist) and many other. Kawasaki arrived in New York in 1973. Kawasaki was picked up by a friend at the airport. He offered him a gig at the Lincoln Center with Joe Lee Wilson as part of the Newport Jazz Festival. Kawasaki soon began jamming as part of the “loft scene” in jazz and was invited by Bobbi Humphrey to perform with him. Kawasaki found a stranger at his front door a few months later. He was Gil Evans, and invited Kawasaki into The Gil Evans Orchestra (David Sanborn Howard Johnson, Tom Malone and Lew Soloff), which was at the time working on a jazz recording featuring Jimi Hendrix compositions. Hendrix had originally conceived the idea with Evans. However, Jimi Hendrix died just a week before the project was launched in 1970. Kawasaki was also a member of the RCA album, There Comes a Time by Gil Evans, which featured Tony Williams as drummer. Kawasaki practiced for a month with the third Tony Williams’ Lifetime edition. The trio format featured Doug Rauch and Carlos Santana as bassists. Tony then left Europe to spend a year before Kawasaki was able to perform publicly. Kawasaki, following in the footsteps Jim Hall, Gabor Zabo, and Larry Coryell, became the guitarist in Chico Hamilton Band. He played on a U.S. Tour and worked on various film scores that Chico had recorded in Hollywood. Kawasaki’s debut U.S. album, Juice was released by RCA in 1976. He was also the first Japanese jazz artist to be signed with a major American label. The project also featured sidemen Tom Coster (Carlos Santana), and Sam Morrison, (Miles Davis). Kawasaki recorded two more albums for East Wind, Prism and Eight Mile Road. For a year, he also joined the Elvin Jones Band on a tour of North and South America as well as Europe. Kawasaki had grown tired of touring with other bands by 1978 and decided to start his own projects. He discovered Music of India and learned ragas. He also recorded Ring Toss for Audio Fidelity, which combined western and eastern music. He recorded Nature’s Revenge with Dave Liebman for the German MPS record label. They also toured Europe. Joanne Brackeen was Ryo’s piano-guitar duo and Ryo also performed at European jazz festivals. They recorded two albums for Timeless Records, AFT and Trinkets and Things. Sony’s Open Sky label in Japan signed Ryo for three albums: Mirror of my Mind, Little Tree, and Live. The latter was recorded in a Tokyo nightclub, making it one of the first digital recordings. Harvey Mason, Leon Pendarvis and Azar Lawrence were among the notable musicians to have participated in those recordings. While touring Germany and Switzerland in 1980, he also recorded an album called Sapporo on the Swiss label America Sound. Kawasaki invents his guitar synthesizer and performs solo shows at planetariums every year from 1980 to 1983. In the early 1980s, he also founded jazz-rock band The Golden Dragon. He performed regularly at concerts. Fostex created the first quarter-inch-tape, eight track recorder, A8 with 2 track mastering machines A2 and asked Kawasaki if he would be the first to use it. In 1981, he recorded Ryo for Philips Records. He gained fame for his original music creations. He used a simple nylon-string acoustic instrument, and all the backing tracks were created by his guitar synthesizer. This included the orchestration of Joaquin Rodrigo’s famous Concierto de Aranjuez- Adagio movement. The next year, he recorded Lucky Lady, a similar recording. Kawasaki was fascinated by the possibilities of the Commodore 64 computer with a sound chip. He learned to write computer programs and devoted 16 hours a day for two years creating four music software programs–Kawasaki Synthesizer, Kawasaki Rhythm Rocker, Kawasaki Magical Musicquill, and Kawasaki MIDI Workstation–distributed by Sight and Sound Music. The first three programs were intended for home and school use. The last program was designed for professional studios. In 1987, he created Images, an all-synthesized album; in 1990, he composed the soundtrack for Pleasure Garden, an IMAX movie about the preservation and restoration of Earth’s tropical rain forests. Kawasaki’s 12″ dance singles, “Electric World”, “One Kiss”, “No Expectations”, “Say Baby I Love You”, and “Don’t Tell Me”, were all top-selling. They mixed house, acidhouse, and ambient sounds. The entire production was done in his own studio, The Satellite Station. The records were then released by Satellites Records. A dance troupe and his band performed regularly in New York’s dance clubs. Kawasaki also served as the New York producer/director of two Japanese weekly music radio stations, The Music Now (88-93) and Idex Music Jam (93-93). In 1986, he produced “Crystallization”, a collaboration with Japanese koto master Kicho Takano. Kawasaki’s musical direction was further influenced when he was signed as an artist and producer by One Voice, a new Japanese jazz and adult contemporary Japanese label. Kawasaki’s first album for the label, the 1992 acoustic solo guitarist album Here, There, and Everywhere, marked his return to jazz. For this label, Kawasaki produced and performed on three albums of Brazilian singer and guitarist Camila Benjaminson. Ryo continues to release albums, including the acoustic My Reverie (music by Bill Evans, Debussy and Ravel), and the electric jazz-oriented Love Within The Universe (which received significant airplay across the nation), as well as “Remixes Remixes Vol. 1 (also featuring Benson), Sweet Life, and CD releases of “Mirror of my Mind”, a jazz ensemble recording that features Harvey Mason, Michael Brecker and Anthony Jackson as well as Leon Pendarvis, Radha Shottam, Leon Pendarvis, Leon Pendarvis, Leon Pendarvis, and Leon Pendarvis. Cosmic rhythm, his 1999 album, features Clare Foster (British singer and lyricist), Victor Jones (drums), Lincoln Goines (bass) and Kawasaki’s rhythm section Kawasaki. Shunzo Ohno and David Kikoski play piano on the album. All songs, including Ryo’s original ten songs, were written and recorded by Kawasaki. Puff Daddy and Kool G Rap were three of the hip-hop artists who recorded Kawasaki’s original composition, “Bamboo Child”, on their new albums. This was more than twenty years after it was originally recorded. Kawasaki’s 2001 live studio album Reval was released. It was recorded in Tallinn (Estonia) with Estonian musicians Toivo unt on bass, Aivar Vassiljev drums and Kristi Keel English horn. He was also a composer, music director and guitarist for “Still Point”, a jazz ballet for Estonia’s National Opera House between 2000 and 2002. Russell Adamson, a native Jamaican living in Helsinki choreographs this ballet. In 2002, Kawasaki released E, his third solo album of acoustic guitars. Kawasaki expanded his live performances into Russia and the Baltic region in 2000. His quartet has performed at Rigas Ritmi Jazz Festival, Riga/Latvia, Pori, and other jazz festivals in Finland (Ukraine, Lithuania, Lithuania) and Saransk Jazz Ark Festival. While assisting with the production of Nomme Jazz Festival, Kawasaki also performed at this jazz festival many times. Kawasaki’s 2005-2008 projects included a guitar trio with American drummer Brian Melvin, Estonian bassist Toivo unt, performing at a variety of venues across Finland, Sweden and the Baltic States. He also performed with Estonian singer Jaanika Ventsel while touring Japan and recording their duo CD “Agana”. Kawasaki and Estonian pianist/keyboardist Tonu Nassisoo formed a jazz ensemble in 2008. His second CD as a duo with Yoshio Chin’ Suzuki (Ling Mu Liang Xiong ), and his first CD with “Art of Trio”, were released in 2009. In 2008, Kawasaki’s composition “Raisins”, was also included on Fusion FM’s Grand Theft Auto IV radio station Fusion FM. Kawasaki expanded his performing in Lebanon with Omar Harb, a Syrian bassist, and Fouad Alfra, a Lebanese drummer. In 2011, Kawasaki released Live in Beirut, which he recorded with Arthur Satyan, a Lebanese organist and Fouad, a drummer. In the same time frame, Kawasaki began to create his fourth solo acoustic guitar album Spain in Tallinn (Estonia) in 2007. Kawasaki met a younger generation Estonian musicians in 2014 and was inspired to create a fusion, jazz-rock sound with his own compositions. After recording with Golden Dragon in the 1980s, Kawasaki’s attention had waned somewhat on these topics. Kawasaki created a new quartet, Level 8, in spring 2016. It was composed exclusively of Estonian musicians: Raun Jurikas (keyboards), Kaarel Liliv (electric bass) u0026 Eno Kollom. Level 8 finished recording a self-titled album focusing on Kawasaki’s compositions both from the past and present utilizing a funk/fusion/jazz-rock sound. Level 8 was released March 2017. A vinyl EP entitled Selected Works 1979-83 by Ryo Kawasaki was released on UK’s independent label Nunorthernsoul in April 2016. In April 2017, Ryo Kawasaki released a follow-up vinyl EP entitled Selected Works Part 2 1976 to 1980. Kawasaki, who was 73 years old, died in Tallinn (Estonia) in April 2020.

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