The Asian Fantasy Orchestra Asian Tour 1998: Biography of Musicians

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KIYOHIKO SENBA <percussion, tsuzumi> JAPAN

Kiyohiko Senba, son of Koyu Senba, the headmaster of the Senba school of traditional Japanese music, has been learning tsuzumi, a Japanese hand-drum, under his father since the age of 3. He made his debut on the Kabuki stage at the age of 10 and has been pursuing a career as a musician ever since. While in the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, he won the Ataka Award, which is conferred on the most skillful students specializing in traditional Japanese music. After graduating from college, he participated in a fusion group and many live sessions. In 1982, he formed the gigantic orchestra "Haniwa All Stars." The live performances and recordings of Haniwa captured great attention. Besides Kabuki and Haniwa, he has worked on various musical projects for the stage, theatre, and recording as musical director and as producer, not only in Japan but abroad as well. He has incorporated traditional Japanese instruments into Western music and has created a unique sound.
In the music festival "Asian Fantasy," which has been held since 1991, with versatile musical capacity and multi-talented performance ability, Senba has performed not only traditional Japanese music and pops but has also collaborated with other musicians from Korean, Indian, Chinese, and Indonesian traditions. Moreover, his versatility was demonstrated as a leading figure in the Asian tour of the "Asian Fantasy Orchestra" (AFO) held in 1995.


One of Japan's leading composers, arrangers, and performers, Daisaku Kume has expanded his career in numerous recordings and live performances since his album debut in 1977 as an original member of a forerunner of jazz-fusion bands "Prism." In 1981, he participated with "Haniwa All Stars" as a musical director. He drew great attention with his original sounds, which created a unique cross-cultural world music with traditional Japanese instruments and the influence of jazz and R&B. In 1993, he released his leader album "Eastern Shore" from WEA, and his latest album "Forever and Never" is being released in the United States in January of 1998. His diversified talent as a composer and an arranger received the highest praise as well as his production of soundtracks and theatrical music, including the award-winning "Ghetto" and "Sono Otoko Kyobo ni Tsuki."
In "Asian Fantasy," he created many original compositions with traditional Asian instruments based on Asian movie sound tracks and classical music. In AFO's Asian tour of 1995, as a leading figure, he displayed his ability with many original compositions and skillful arrangements.


Kazutoki Umezu performed in New York from 1974 through 1975. After returning to Japan, he formed "Seikatsu Kojo Iinkai Orchestra," which created an immense sensation. He toured Japan and Europe with his own band the "Doktor Umezu Band," and became very popular. Since then, he has formed many of his own bands in a variety of musical configurations and genres. He has collaborated with jazz musicians such as Yosuke Yamashita and Lester Bowie, and has performed with improvisational artists such as New York's John Zorn. His fascinating collaborations include playing with musicians from backgrounds as diverse as rock, blues, Korean shamanic music, dancing, etc.. With his kaleidoscopic rendering of the saxophone, he has displayed his own unique talent not only in Japan, but aggressively in the United States, Europe, and Asia as well. His performance is not bound by any musical genre and is rich in originality.
In the "Asian Fantasy," various collaborations with Korean shamanic musicians and Okinawan singers have been presented by him, and he has displayed an amazing versatility. In 1995, he participated as a leading figure in AFO's Asian tour.


Isao Miyoshi started out on guitar while in high school, and developed an interest in jazz after entering college. In 1983, he made his debut at a jazz club in Tokyo. Since then, he has been participating in several bands under such musicians as Kazutoki Umezu and Rod Williams. In 1992, he formed his own band, and he released his first leader album in 1995. His supple and exquisite, sometimes avant-garde, guitar playing always attracts fans, and he is considered by many as one of the leading guitarists of his generation.


Benisuke Sakai has received numerous invitations from predominately Japanese jazz groups such as those of Terumasa Hino and Masahiko Sato. Leading his own group with reliable skills, a diverse sense of rhythm, and wide musical capacity, he has participated in lots of recordings and tours not only in Japan but abroad as well. Besides his busy performance activities, he has displayed his versatile abilities through composing and arranging music for the theater, soundtracks, and dancing. He is one of the top bassists in Japan.

NOBUO NAKAHARA <electric bass> JAPAN

Nobuo Nakahara made his album debut as a member of rock band in 1981. Since then, he has been working with many vocalists and players as a recording producer, composer, and arranger, besides his live performance activities in various bands. His unique sense and keen skills have earned the highest praise.


Kozo Niida started out on drums at the age of 12. Following work with many bands, he made his professional debut as a member of Masamichi Sugi's band. From 1979 through 1990, he participated in the Japanese rock band "RC Succession." Since 1990, he has been working in concerts and recordings with lots of bands and musicians, as well as expanding his activity with his own group, which consists of only drum players. His drumming is becoming more and more dynamic as the years go by and his reputation is continuing to grow.


Kazunori Sato started out on drums while in high school, studying under Senba. He was also interested in percussion, and has participated in some bands under Senba such as "Haniwa All Stars." In 1990, he participated in "The Yemoto" and released two albums. Presently, his performance activity is based on several sessions. In AFO's 1995 tour, he performed in the rhythm section with Indian and Korean percussionists.


Akira Tanaka has been performing in some bands under Senba since 1988. Also, he has participated in several recordings for Sumire Yoshiwara, a contemporary musical percussionist, and Haruo Minami, a well-known Japanese vocalist, as well as in live performances of Yosuke Yamashita. Besides, he has appeared on the stage of Kabuki as a musician of the Senba school. He has been extending his range of activity in various genres. In AFO's 1995 tour, he performed in the rhythm section with Indian and Korean percussionists.


Haruko Yano graduated from the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music and performed with numerous symphony orchestras as a soloist. After participating in some master classes by Isaac Stern and others, she studied in Berlin and held her own concerts at several cities in Europe, receiving high praise. After returning to Japan, she held her own recital. Her performance activity is based on classical music by solo performance and with chamber orchestras, but in recent years, she has collaborated with pops musicians, and has been enlarging her career into other musical fields.


Kuniyo Fukami started out on violin at the age of 3. Since graduating from the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, she has been performing in a variety of musical genres such as classical music, pops, rock, and others. She has been a member of the Tokyo Vivaldi Orchestra as well. She participated in the Asian tour of the "Asian Fantasy Orchestra" held in 1995.


Kaori Takeuchi, whose father is a concert violinist, made her TV debut at the age of 9. After graduating from the Toho College of Music, she studied at the International Menuhin Music Academy in Switzerland and Hochschule der Kunste Berlin (HdK), and launched her performance activity in Europe. Before graduating as the top student at HdK, she enjoyed success in recitals, concerts, and festivals, and established a career as a concert soloist. Her excellent skills were displayed as a member in some ensembles as well. In 1992, she won the Klanichstainer Prize in the Darmstadt Contemporary Music Summer Course. In 1993, she returned to Japan, and has been developing her career in various fields.


While in Kunitachi Music College, Yuko Okubo started her performance activity as a professional, and participated in numerous tours and recordings with predominantly Japanese pops groups. After graduating from college, she spent six years as a college lecturer, but returned to studio work again. Since then, she has been performing in several live performances and recordings for major Japanese groups.


After graduating from college, Shizuko Takahashi was a member of the Yamagata Symphony Orchestra for three years. Since she has been a free artist, never fitting into the narrow definition of classical music, she has been performing in a variety of genres such as musicals, studio sessions, and others.


Yoshiko Morita started out on the violin at the age of 4. When she graduated from the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, she was interested in original ancient instruments and studied the Baroque violin. Presently, with both modern and original instruments, she performs as a member of the Bach Collegium Japan, the Tokyo Bach and Mozart Orchestra, and other groups.


Mayumi Tachibana graduated from the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music. In 1986 and 1987, she performed in several concerts at Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou in China, where she won the highest praise. In 1993, she participated in Roger Ino's group "Channel Light Vessel," whose concerts and albums were a major success in Europe. She has performed some cello concertos with symphony orchestras, but her performance activities cover various fields, not only classical music, but rock and pops as well. She participated in the "Asian Fantasy Orchestra" 1995 Asian tour.


Ayano Kasahara started out on the cello at the age of 6. After graduating from the Senzoku College of Music, she attended the Ensemble Diploma Course at the Toho College of Music. In 1993, she won a prize at the Tateshina Music Festival. Based on classical performance in symphonies and chamber orchestras, she has participated in studio sessions of pops as well, and has been extending her range of activity.


Jia Peng-fang started out on the erhu at the age of 8. In 1978, he entered the Chinese National Central Folk Orchestra in Beijing. In 1979, he was appointed the Principal erhu player. And in 1985, he was also appointed the vice-Principal of the orchestra department. He held numerous concerts in several cities in China, and won the highest praise. In 1988, he moved to Japan. Since then, with his expressive sound, which is both graceful and forceful, he has been participating in lots of concerts, recordings, TV programs, TV commercials, and soundtracks in various fields. In 1994, he released his own album. Since participating to the "Asian Fantasy" in 1993, the sound of his erhu has been indispensable. In 1995, he participated in AFO's tour as a leading figure.

ZHANG LIN <yang-qin> CHINA

Zhang Lin started to learn the yang-qin at the age of 5. After graduating from the Chinese National Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, he entered the Chinese National Central Folk Orchestra, and was appointed the Principal yang-qin player. In 1989, he came to Japan to pursue advanced studies. Since then, he has endeavored for cultural exchange between Japan and China and the spread of Chinese music through his recitals and several concerts. In 1993, he released his own album. In the music festival "Asian Fantasy," he challenged those in other fields aggressively, as in improvised performances with jazz musicians. In 1995, he participated in the AFO tour. His keen skills and superlative abilities are respected highly.


Jiang Xiao-qing begun to learn the guzheng at the age of 8. She won the Gold prize in the contest of folk instruments at the age of 15. She graduated from the Chinese National Central Conservatory of Music. In 1986, after having a US performance tour, she moved to Japan. In 1987, she participated in the soundtrack of "The Last Emperor," produced by Ryuichi Sakamoto, a world-renowned Japanese artist, and in his concerts held in Japan and New York as well. In 1991, she released her solo album. Alongside her performance activities, she has been displaying her manifold abilities in translation and in the vocals of Chinese song on TVCFs.


Hiroshi Nakagawa studied Indian classical music in the Banaras Hindi University from 1981 through 1984. Also, he studied vocal and bansuri. After returning to Japan, he started his performance activity as a bansuri player. He has been learning bansuri under Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia since 1988. Besides performance activity, he superintends "Tengaku Kikaku (Music from the Sky)," and has produced concerts to introduce the classical performing arts of Asia including Japan. In 1995, he participated in the AFO Asian tour.


Nayan Ghosh has proudly inherited his art and sense of aesthetics from his father and mentor Nikhil Ghosh. He has provided evocative tabla accompaniment to Ravi Shankar and others, and has also developed the ability to establish immediate rapport with foreign audiences through his concerts in Western countries. He is one of the very few musicians of India whose uncanny command of the tabla and sitar has made him a recognized artist all over the world. He participated in AFO's 1995 Asian tour as a leading figure.


Dhruba Ghosh had been studying the vocal music in the North Indian classical genre since he was a child. But the mysterious sound of the sarangi had always attracted him, and when his voice changeover, that he took up exploring the sarangi. Traditional vocal compositions in numerous ragas, besides a rich repertoire in tabla were being handed down to him by his guru and father the famed tabla maestro Pandit Nikhil Ghosh. He has many invitations from Europe and the United States, giving him opportunities to introduce and spread Indian classical music through his concerts and workshops. In the AFO Asian tour of 1995, he participated as a leading figure.


A disciple of the revered tabla player Nikhil Ghosh, Aneesh Pradhan has also made a mark as an accomplished soloist. He has been performing extensively not only in India but also in Europe, Australia, and Africa as well, winning wide critical acclaim. Aside from his performing distinctions, he has been appointed artist-in-residence at the University of New England, Australia. He is presently on the visiting faculty of the Music Department of the University of Bombay. He has been conferred a grade "A" by All India Radio and is a regular performer on Indian radio and television. He has numerous commercial recordings to his credit in India and abroad.

TAYAJIRO MOCHIZUKI <shakuhachi, flute> JAPAN

Tayajiro Mochizuki has been a shakuhachi player in the Nihon Ongaku Shudan, which is an ensemble for traditional Japanese instruments, since he was a college student. After attending that ensemble, he began performing the Noh flute and has expanded his performance activity to Kabuki music as well. He has also participated in several folk music groups. In the "Asian Fantasy Orchestra" held in 1995, he displayed his versatile and extensive musical capacity to the fullest extent.


Shin'ichi Kinoshita studied the shamisen under his father at the age of 10. In 1984, he learned the Tsugaru shamisen under master Jun'ichi Fujita. In 1986 and 1987, he won the championship in a national conference for Tsugaru shamisen. He has collaborated with various musicians in the folk and jazz fields as well as performed in his own rock group, and has been incorporating shamisen into jazz and rock'n'roll. In the "Asian Fantasy Orchestra" Asian tour in 1995, he introduced Japanese folk music with his bright voice and his forceful shamisen performances.

TETSUHIRO DAIKU <Okinawan folk vocal, sanshin> JAPAN

Born on Ishigaki Island, Okinawa. Tetsuhiro Daiku holds teaching licenses for both the Nomura Association of Traditional Song Musicians and the Ryukyu Folk Song Association. He has won diverse awards in many folk-singing competitions, establishing him as the best Yaeyama folk-song musician. He has performed not only in Japan but has toured in lots of countries around the world as well. As a radio DJ for Okinawan music, and as a teacher for folk-music schools, he has introduced and spread Okinawan music to the younger generation. Never quite fitting into the narrow definition of Okinawan folk music, he has worked aggressively with jazz musicians and others in recordings and the concerts. His voice has always attracted many fans in the "Asian Fantasy."

NAEKO DAIKU <Okinawan folk vocal> JAPAN

Born in Ishigaki Island, Okinawa. In 1993, Naeko Daiku won the highest prize in the department of Ryukyu koto at the Ryukyu classical performance competition. In the same year, a teaching license was conferred on her. Since then, she has been teaching Ryukyu-koto to the younger generation and has also been enlarging her performance career as a Ryukyu-koto player and Okinawan folk singer.


Grace Nono studied Education, Anthropology, and Asian Music in the University of the Philippines. In 1986, she launched her performance career as a singer and song-writer. Since then, as vocalist, songwriter, composer, and producer, she has produced numerous outstanding albums. In addition, in serving as a researcher of indigenous Filipino Music and Culture, as director of the Asian arts workshop, and as president and founder of the Tao Foundation for Culture and Arts, her versatile talents have been displayed in diverse scenes, and she has endeavored to spread the ethnic music and culture of the Filipino islands. In recent years, she has released her own albums, in which Filipino folk/traditional music is incorporated into her own music, and she has also won numerous prizes.


Kaori Kozai studied Japanese folk vocals at the age of 11. By the time she was 12, her skills had developed remarkably, and she won many prizes in folk song competitions over many years. In 1988, she made her debut as a vocalist, and her debut song recorded big sales. Since then, she has released many singles and albums and has held recitals throughout Japan. She has also won many prizes in diverse musical festivals organized by major media, enabling her to be a favorite vocalist. Especially, in 1993, she won the grand prize of the "Nihon Record Taisho," which is conferred on the most remarkable vocalist who sung the best song of the year. With versatile musical talent, she performs diverse genres from folk and pops to jazz, but she is also a very famed Enka vocalist in Japan.

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