Yasuaki Shimizu is an internationally active composer, producer and saxophonist. Since the 1970s, Shimizu has been pushing the limits of the saxophone, and exploring new avenues in an unparalleled musical career. Whether as a solo performer, with his group “Saxophonettes” or as a composer for Film and Video soundtracks, he has consistently defied music barriers, and has earn’t the respect of musicians throughout the world.
He first came to prominence as a member of the rock band Mariah, during which time he also released acclaimed solo albums, such as IQ 179(1981) that featured Ryuichi Sakamoto and Kakashi (1982) which pushed the boundaries of avant jazz and experimental music.
From 1985 until 1989 he lived in Paris, immersing himself in the multi-cultural society. He subsequently recorded in Paris and London.He is also known for the extraordinary locations of his concerts and recording locations. These have ranged from concerts at mountainside temples, to a Tokyo underground car park. Recording locations have included a stone quarry, and a warehouse.
In 1996 he released the first volume of Cello Suites (1-3), the first ever recorded tenor saxophone interpretation of Bach’s Suites for unaccompanied cello.
These are regarded as the “Old Testament” of the cello repertoire. The recording received universal acclaim, and won a Japan Record Taisho award in 1997, the Japanese equivalent of a Grammy. He subsequently released Cello Suites 4,5,6 in 1999.
Shimizu’s recordings of Bach’s Cello Suites were championed by the late UK broadcaster Charlie Gillett, and received regular airings on his BBC World Service show.
In 2006 he formed Saxophonettes II, a quintet of three tenor and two baritone saxophones. and released the album Pentatonica. In 2010 he performed live Bach’s Goldberg Variations for five saxophones and four contrabasses. An album of new interpretations arranged by Shimizu will be released in Spring 2015.
His list of collaborators both studio and live include Ryuichi Sakamoto, Koji Ueno,Helen Merrill, Kazumi Watanabe, Towa Tei, Toshinori Kondo, Björk, Bill Laswell, Elvin Jones, Yosuke Yamashita, Van Dyke Parks, Manu Dibango, David Cunningham and Wasis Diop.
Quotes about Yasuaki Shimizu.
“He is a truly one and only performer, for power, spirit and pride. He has the ability to encompass any kind of music.” Haroumi Hosono.
“His sax playing is adult, but at the same time almost childish in it’s simplicity. There is no one else like Yasuaki Shimuzu.” Tei Towa