Hironobu Saito (g), Milton Fletcher (p), Yasushi Nakamura (b), John Lamkin (d), Darren Barrett (tp), Walter Smith (ts)
Bar code: 8427328421799
Guitarist and composer Hironobu Saito is from Miyazaki, Japan. In 1990 he won an award at a teen music festival, and soon afterwards, he began his professional career playing at various clubs throughout Japan. After graduating from Otani University in Kyoto, he won a scholarship to the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts in 1999. He has studied with various artists such as Joe Lovano, Mick Goodrick, Hal Crook, Richie Hart, Mark Whitfield, Adam Rodgers, Kiyohito Koizumi and others.
He has played and recorded with artists such as pianists Geoff Keezer, Stephen Scott, Robert Glasper, Danny Grisett, Aaron Parks and Dan Kaufman; vibraphonists Joe Locke and Warren Wolf; trumpeters Roy Hargrove and Sean Jones; drummers Kendrick Scott, Eric Harland, Quincy Davis, John Lamkin and Marty Morell; bassists Dwayne Burno, Marco Panascia and Luques Curtis; saxophonists Walter Smith, John Ellis and Jaleel Shaw; and guitarists Lionel Loueke and Peter Bernstein.
In 2002 he acted as a representative for the Berklee Guitar Department, and toured Japan as a cultural exchange event in Kyoto City. Hiro was the recipient of the Berklee Guitar Department Achievement Award, and in October 2003, he placed 2nd in the Gibson Jazz Guitar Competition. He has been featured in magazines such as Swing Journal, Jazz Life and the Jazz Guitar Book, the website allaboutjazz.com, and many others.
In 2004, he recorded his first CD, The Remaining 2% with Darren Barrett, John Lamkin, Walter Smith, Milton Fletcher and Yasushi Nakamura. He is endorsed by Ibanez guitars.
Booklet contains informations in English and Japanese.
"Both classic and modern jazz sensibilities flow from the debut recording of guitarist Hironobu Saito. Having performed and received numerous awards in his home of Miyazaki Japan in the '90s, he earned a scholarship at Boston's Berklee School of music in 1999 and is currently performing in many venues in New York.
The recording's style is straightahead yet yields a few fresh ideas in the post bop and contemporary arena. All seven compositions are Saito creations and cover various colors, including heavy bebop, cool ballads, and modern lyricism. His tone is even and full and his chops hint of an early George Benson with smoothness, agility, and control.
His seminal bandmates are also impressive, with a potent rhythm section and stellar musicianship. Particular interest goes to pianist Milton Fletcher and saxophonist Walter Smith who provide outstanding lead voices along with the guitarist.
Saito's writing talent is distinguished and draws the listener in with melody on the silky piece The Unconscious with its smooth tempo. On the aggressive opening number Saito uses slight delay and volume effects to provide a layered sound. He also slows it down on the dreamy Memory, adding a lovely solo that is filled with fluency and maturity.
Other bright spots include the ballad Moonlight Waltz, which contains a memorable vamp, and the swinging groove A Toon 4 the 121 Crew, which features a tempestuous horn solo by guest trumpeter Darren Barrett.
Saito's academics and performing skills are evident on The Remaining 2% and it's time for the young artist to shine, which he clearly does with this solid debut."
Mark F. Turner -All About Jazz
"It is my belief that Hiro has a true love for music and the guitar and this recording aptly demonstrates this love and devotion as he pays homage to his heroes like Grant Green and George Benson. If he continues on this path, he will have a promising career".
"This is a beautiful CD by a group of exciting young musicians creatively exploring the jazz tradition - the traditions of swinging and inprovising and creating an ensemble sound. Individually and collectively, these players show musical maturity well beyond their years".
"It's a rare thing to see a seed grow into a full blooming flower. This is the case with Hiro. I have seen him greow from a student, to a seasoned jazz musician. Hiro brings to his debut recording, an in depth approach to jazz. He brings tradition when approaching jazz itself.
By listening to Hiro's playing you can hear the influences that the great pioneers have had on him. Some of these jazz great's include, Wes Montgomery, George Benson, Kenny Burrell, Grant Green, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, and many more. With this being Hiro's first record release I welcome him into the jazz community".
"Walter Smith's tenor sax and Darren Barrett's trumpet make their marks, establishing this as somewhat to the left of mainstream, but their moves don't differentiate easily from dozens of others. Besides, this is the guitarist's record, and the horns in that respect are distracting. It doesn't help that the guitarist has little to add on top of the usual Montgomery-influenced lines. But I can't be certain: I'd like to hear him in a context which focuses more on him, or I'd like to hear him with a better saxophonist. B."
Tom Hull -Village Voice
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