Usui Yasuihiro Biography

Usui Yasuhiro
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Usui Yasuhiro

Improviser, Guitar player, Composer,

Usui started his career in junior high school. Since then, he has been playing guitar in diverse music genres. In the middle of the 1990s, he started a unique improvisation style that implements the fewest possible guitar effectors. He worked with Elliott Sharp, guitarist and composer, for a recording in New York, 2003, and played with Sharp as a Duo in 2004, 2005, 2010 and 2012. Recently Usui has been taking part in internationally acclaimed Japanese free Jazz groups like Shibusa Shirazu Orchestra and Satoko Fujii Orchestra. He has been playing with many domestic/overseas musicians including Ned Rothenberg (sax), William Parker (b), Fill Minton (voice), Peter Brotzmann(sax) and has been touring world wide. He has his own label, where he records and produces his own as well as other artists’ music.


Played with

Jim O’Rourke(gt) Elliot Sharp(g) Ned Rothenberg (sax), William Parker (b), Fill Minton (voice), Peter Brotzmann (sax) Otomo Yoshihide(gt,turntable)

Ustad Gulzaman(vo) Paul Rutherford(tb) Parck Chang Soo(pf) Zai Kuning(g) Ellen Weller (pf.sax.etc) Frantz Loriot (viola) Hugues Vincent (cello) Motoko Honda (pf) Jesse GilbertvisualJeff Lee(reed) Paul Kazutoki Umezu(sax) Yumi Hara Cawkwel(key.voCarlo Actis Dato(sax) Raymond MacDonald(sax) Seiichi Yamamoto(g) Atsushi Tsuyama(b) Koichi Makigami(voice) Tatsuya Yoshida(dr) Itaru Oki(tp)


1983       Usui first picked up the guitar by himself

1988       Moved to Okinawa as a student in Ryukyu University.

Studied Psychology.

Play many kinds of genre,folk, rock, fusion pops  jazz and free jazz

1994      Moved to Tokyo from Okinawa

1995      Moved to Nagoya from Tokyo

1996      Started playing improvised music.

2001   solo performance tour in Seoul

2003    Soul solo performance in Seoul

Recored in NY with Elliott Sharp

2004    Elliott Sharp and Usui Yasuhiro Japan Tour in July

Played with Ned Rorthenberg in Nov.

2005    Elliott Sharp and Usui Yasuhiro Japan Tour in Dec

2006    performed in Germany and France.

Kosho Nanami (buto dancer) Yasuhiro Minamizawa(sitar)

Park Chang Soo from Seoul with Usui Yasuhiro Japan Tour in Oct

2007    solo performance in Beijin

2009    Organized Asian Meeting Festival.

Otomo Yoshihide (Tokyo), Yuen Chee Wai (Singapore),

Ryu Hankil (Seoul), Yan Jun (Beijing) DJ sniff(Amsterdam

2011       performed in Seoul Free Music Festival

Yukie Sato and Usui Yasuhiro Duo with Silent Film.


2012     Elliott Sharp and Usui Yasuhiro Japan Tour in Nov to Dec


2013  Hakidame Ni Tsuru Germany Tour in April

Mizuki Wildenhahn Natsuki Tamura Satoko Fujii

Takaaki Masuko Yasuhiro Usui



1998   Kenichi Matsumoto Duo guest Usui Yasuhiro  – SUGOI  LABEL


2004 「Nagoyanian」 Satoko Fujii Orchestra Nagoya -BAKAMO RECORDS


2005 「Don’t Walk on the cat side」OKDOKI  -BAKAMO RECORDS

「Volcanic island」Usui Yasuhiro & Elliott Sharp


2006「thrgouth the deep forest」Kotoriya -BAKAMO RECORDS

「Maru」Satoko Fujii Orchestra Nagoya -BAKAMO RECORDS

「75869」V.A flyline: Kei(gt) and Usui Yasuhiro(gt)  -coup label

2008「Sanrei」Satoko Fujii Orchestra Nagoya -BAKAMO RECORDS


2008「Our Aurasian Things」V.A Usui Yasuhiro  -off note


2009「Taiyo To Fune」

Kunihiro Izumi(ex Shibusa ShirazuOrchestra)

Yasuhiro Tachibana Duo Guest Usui Yasuhiro – KITAKARA RECORDS


2009「Crunch」MAJIKA~NAHARU  – sustain records

Hiroshi Higo(b) Lapiz(g.vo) Bakky(as) Masataka Fujikake(dr)

Usui Yasuhiro(g)


2012「I NEVER META GUITAR TOO」produced by Elliott Sharp

Clean Feed CFD G06CD

 2016 「Smog Brass」Smog Brass BAKAMO RECORDS, BKM-011

2017 「Ku Ku Jyaku Jyaku」Katabura  BAKAMO RECORDS, BKM-013

2016 「Trio oddball I」 Trio Oddball , BAKAMO RECORDS, BKM-010

2017「Trio oddball II」 Trio Oddball , BAKAMO RECORDS, BKM-010  BAKAMO RECORDS, BKM-012

2019「Trio oddball III」 Trio Oddball . BAKAMO RECORDS, BKM-014

2018 「DMK」Ryorchestra , Rrecords 010

Played with

Jim O’Rourke(gt) Elliot Sharp(g)  Ned Rothenberg (sax), William Parker (b), Fill Minton (voice), Peter  Brotzmann (sax) Otomo Yoshihide(gt,turntable)

Ustad Gulzaman(vo) Paul Rutherford(tb) Parck Chang Soo(pf) Zai Kuning(g)  Ellen Weller(pf.sax.etc) Frantz Loriot (viola) Hugues Vincent (cello) Motoko Honda (pf) Jesse Gilbert(visual)Jeff Lee(reed) Paul Kazutoki Umezu(sax) Yumi Hara Cawkwel(key.vo)Carlo Actis Dato(sax) Raymond MacDonald(sax) Seiichi Yamamoto(g) Atsushi Tsuyama(b) Koichi Makigami(voice) Tatsuya Yoshida(dr) Itaru Oki(tp)





Down Town Music Gallary


SATOKO FUJII ORCHESTRA [NAGOYA VERSION] – Nagoyanian (Bakamo 01; Japan) This is the sixth fabulous disc for that ever-adventurous and ultra-busy pianist and composer Satoko Fujii and her marvelous 16 piece Japanese (West) orchestra. On ‘Nogoyanian’, Satoko is the conductor and co-composer with her husband and trumpet ace Natsuki Tamura, she plays no piano here. The five works are long, complex, diverse and fascinating. Instead of piano, we find the strong playing of electric guitarist Yasuhiro Usui, who is also the producer, as well as the superb electric bass of Shigeru Suzuki. Ms. Fujii consistently blends genres/styles, mixing jazz, rock and progressive influences into an intense new sound. I hear some of those dark Crimson-like waves in her writing on the dynamic title piece, which features one of those truly sick and well-placed noise guitar solos. Natsuki’s “Masai No Mai” features some spooky vocal sounds, twisted horn parts, bird-calls and delightfully weird writing. There are six sax players here, none of whom I am familiar with but there are a number of outstanding solos throughout, as well as some great work from the six brass players. From the insert photo, I get the feeling that most of these musicians are pretty young, yet the overall sound is that of a tight, mature and well-seasoned big band. “Fue Taiko” reminds me of that Zappa-like humor and bluesiness, that his early 70′s bands did so well. Some 25 releases later and Satoko Fujii continues to astonish us with her large palette of accomplishments. – BLG








Satoko Fujii Orchestra Nagoya Version | Bakamo Records

By Eyal Hareuveni


Pianist and composer Satoko Fujii leads three different bands under the title of the East Orchestra―one in Tokyo, the other in Kobe, and the wildest one in Nagoya, which is just now releasing its debut outing on guitarist and producer Yasuhiro Usui’s new label, Bakamo. This sixteen-piece orchestra features Fujii’s partner and close musical collaborator, trumpeter Natsuki Tamura; tenor saxist Kenichi Matsumoto; and baritone saxist Ryuichi Yoshida, who played with other versions of the East Orchestra ( Double Take, EWE 2000; Before The Dawn, Polystar 2003); plus thirteen other young musicians from Nagoya who were picked by Usui. This time Fujii is only the conductor. You cannot tame such an eccentric band from the piano stool.



The Orchestra kicks off with a new and charged arrangement of “Nagoyanian,” which was recorded by the West Orchestra on Blueprint (Polystar 2004). The orchestra plays as if possessed from the first note, following a jagged electric guitar solo by Usui and propulsion from the muscular rhythm section of drummer Hisamine Kondo and electric bass player Shigeru Suzuki. The horn section whirls around the galloping beat of Kondo and Shigreu. Tamura uses the orchestra as a kind of a twisted choir on his “Masai No Mai,” as he did before with the East Orchestra on “Oseka-Yansado” ( Double Take ) and “Wakerasuka” ( Before The Dawn ); and the West Orchestra on “Ocha!” ( Blueprint ), but this time to a better effect. The Nagoyanian players enjoy indulging themselves in cartoonish voices and ceremonial toy playing.



On “Fue Taiko” Fujii creates a beautiful gradual buildup of the horn section, and on “Exile,” which was recorded by the West Orchestra, she highlights the trumpets in the orchestra over a bleak and ethereal atmosphere. The closing track, Tamura’s “Tobifudo,” was recorded first on his first solo disc in 1992 and later by the West Orchestra. It gets a feverish arrangement advanced by the thunderous drumming of Kondo and collective maniacal shouting of the horns.



The US-based West Orchestra is more imbued in the great tradition of jazz and blues and may be more open rhythmically, but this stormy version of the East Orchestra brings forth Fujii as a unique composer who can turn compositions upside down and always find deep and exciting nuances in them. This disc was recorded in the Tokuzo live-house at Nagoya, where Usui managed to preserve the raw sound of the orchestra.



Down town music gallary



SATOKO FUJII ORCHESTRA NAGOYA – Maru (Bakamo 05; Japan) What makes this orchestra different from the other three released this week is that Satoko is the conductor and doesn’t play piano here. This ensemble, like the one in Kobe, has tow trombones and a tuba player and a fine electric guitarist added. And also like the Kobe Orchestra, Satoko and Natsuki split the writing chores with the exception of one piece by the guitarist, Yasuhiro Usui. This is the second disc by the Orchestra Nagoya and both are mighty fine. Yasuhiro’s “Slip-On” opens with some strong fanfare. Rather funky with some slamming drums and propulsive bass, great sax solos at the center of the storm of other horns. Electric bassist, Shigeru Suzuki, is often at the center of these pieces. He keeps the central groove down on “Pakonya”, as the other horns play their slightly twisted harmonies together. One of the trumpet players, Natsuki maybe, takes a long, inspired solo that is more restrained than what you might expect, which is followed by a swell bari sax solo (from Daion Kobayashi). Naksuki composed the title piece and it features a long and winding electric guitar solo. More restrained yet colorful ensemble passages abound, with a strong trombone solo at the center. “Bennie Waltz” can also be found on the recent Tokyo Orchestra disc and here gets another find rendition. It is an unusual sort of waltz, yet it also works so well. “Sakuradori Sen” is another Satoki original that starts one way and then changes into something else entirely. Each section is filled with unexpected twists and turns. Pretty wonderful throughout and another feather in the big cap that Satoko Fujii must wear to show off her 45+ releases and projects. – BLG




All About Jazz


The Volcanic Guitar of Yasuhiro Usui

By Eyal Hareuveni


Japanese guitarist Yasuhiro Usui is the man behind the Nagoya Version of the Satoko Fujii Orchestra, the wildest version of this Orchestra. Last year, Usui produced and released, on his own label, the Orchestra’s first release (Nagoyanian, Bakamo, 2004), and managed to charge it with tons of eccentric and manic energy. Usui is also a frequent collaborator of highly creative musicians including reed player Ned Rothenberg and vocalist Phil Minton. Now he has released two more discs through his new label, that document his meeting with guitarist Elliot Sharp and the collaborative Nagoya-based trio, Okidoki.


Usui Yasuhiro & Elliot Sharp

Volcanic Island



What a noisy heaven. Usui and Sharp could not find a better title for this documentation of their volcanic meeting that was recorded in New York in July 2003. Sharp, on the right channel, and Usui, on the left channel, create so many stormy noises and seismic eruptions on their electric guitars, grinding the strings, pushing them into feedback cacophony, sliding them with obscene objects, and provoking a lot of mysterious sound terrains; all done so intensely that you need

The six tracks are built in almost organic manner. The two guitarists feel in the dark for similar lines, and than delve head-on into them, daring to experience any avenue and welcome any mysterious sound. The outcome is somewhere between the spontaneous improvisations of Derek Bailey and the free-form metallic wall of sounds of Keiji Haino, with whom Sharp has performed in the past. Their open and swift communication is another reason to enjoy this clamorous summit. This disc is certainly not for the faint of heart, but is very satisfying for the fierce ones.





Don’t Walk On The Cat Side



Okidoki features the fragile saxes and clarinet of Yoko Tade, the solid tuba, recorder and pianica of Takero Sekizima and the unsettling guitar of Usui. Throughout the ten tracks, recorded in the Nagoya live-house Tokuzo — Usui’s home base — earlier this year, Tade and Sekizima outline a simple, sometimes even sweet and childish melody, while Usui pushes them to the edge, with his thorny, jagged playing.


The third track imitates a soundtrack to a pre-duel scene in a samurai film. The two reed players produce breathy sounds that are similar to the shakuhachi bamboo flute, already a clichֳ© in such scenes, and Usui references the traditional string instrument, shamisen, as if it were played by a wild slide guitarist. The Tade-penned “Nagi” features her playing a cyclical charming melody, with Sekizima suppling a solid base with his tuba while Usui sends the melody to mysterious terrains with his percussive playing. Usui manages here, as he did on Volcanic Island to create a truly collaborative atmosphere, so tight that if we pull out any of the trio members, the magic might disappear.


Usui is a rare original voice who delivers his highly personal musical vocabulary throughout these two interesting discs.


Visit Yasuhiro Usui and Elliot Sharp on the web.


Volcanic Island:


Tracks: Ve; Yusui; Moqsan; Zenso; Mui; Kazanto

Personnel: Yasuhiro Usui- electric guitar (left channel); Elliot Sharp- electric guitar (right channel)


Don’t Walk On The Cat Side:


Tracks: Nekomichi Part 1 (Tada); TKZ050107T1-1; TKZ050107T5-1; TKZ050107T3-1; TKZ050107T2; Nagi (Tada); TKZ050107T5-2; TKZ050107T1-2; TKZ050107T4; Nekomichi Part 2 (Tada)

Personnel: Yoko Tade: soprano sax; alto sax; clarinet, pianica; Takero Sekizima- tuba, recorder, pianica; tomomin; Yasuhiro Usui- guitar



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