Yamashita, Yosuke

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Yamashita, Yosuke

Yamashita, Yosuke, jazz pianist, composer; b. Tokyo, Feb. 26, 1942. In 1962, he entered the conservatory at Kunitachi, where for five years he specialized in composition. During this time he became part of a group with Terumasa Hino and Masabumi Kikuchi that played at the club Gin-Paris. In 1969 he formed his own free-jazz trio with Seiichi Nakamura (tenor saxophone; replaced in 1972 by Akira Sakata on alto; then Kazunori Takeda on tenor in 1980) and Takeo Moriyama (drums; replaced in 1976 by Shota Koyama). He made his first tour of Europe in 1974; in 1976 played at Montreux, where he met bassist Adelhard Roidinger, with whom he toured Japan as a duo in 1977; in 1979 he appeared at the Newport (in N.Y.) Festival and recorded with members of the Art Ensemble of Chicago. His trio toured Japan along with the Globe Unity Orch., and then worked as a quartet with the addition of bassist Katsuo Kuninaka. In 1981 Yamashita’s group worked with altoist Eiichi Hayashi. Yamashita was voted Jazzman of the Year in 1982 by readers of Swing Journal In 1983 he disbanded his small group and formed a big band, the Panja Swing Orch., also composed for classical orchestra, and played with Korean and Japanese percussionists. In 1984 he performed as a soloist and gave duo concerts with Japanese players of traditional music such as Eitetsu Hayahi (wadaiko), Suiho Tousya (nohkan), and Hozan Yamamoto (shakuhachi), with whom he played in Europe in 1985. At the Centre Georges-Pompidou in Paris in 1987 he played in duet with Takeo Moriyama. He has also played with Elvin Jones, Mai Waldron (a favorite of his), Bennie Wallace, Pheeroan akLaff (1990), Cecil McBee, and Bill Laswell’s group Last Exit. In the 1990s he reinterpreted Ravel’s Boléro and Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue.


DISC.: Concert in Jazz (1969); Clay (1974); Ghosts by Albert Ayler (1974); Breath Take (1975); Inner Space (1977); First Time (1979); Live and Then Picasso (1981); In Europe (1983); Sakura (Cherry) (1990); Kurdish Dance (1993); Tribute to Mai Waldron (1994).

—Lewis Porter