In its century-long history, the ongoing fusion of contemporary influences
has helped jazz has grown steadily and ever richer. If such a thing as “world
music” exists, jazz comes closest to defining it.Not only can jazz be
heard throughout the world, but territorial borders have long ceased to define
styles or influences.
Masanori Sasaji is a case in point. He has been all over the musical spectrum, listening and playing widely. He calls Miles Davis, The Beatles, and Maurice Ravel his favorite musical influences and has spent time in pursuit of each. And he has done so as both performer and producer.
Born in 1955, Sasaji has helped shape contemporary music in Japan for nearly a quarter century. And a long internship preceded his becoming influential. He began piano at four, fell under the spell of Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton while in junior high school and took up the guitar, then returned to the keyboard upon realizing there were better guitarists around. He surrounded himself with jazz during college, and made it a career upon graduating, starting with a group formed together with the bassist Isao Suzuki. He has been all over the Japanese music scene since, leading his own bands and performing with a wide variety of musicians.
Text by Paul Migliorato
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