UoU is an acoustic jazz quintet formed in 2008 consisting of all Japanse native musicians: saxophonist Takuji Yamada, guitarist Daisuke Abe, pianist Yoko Komori, bassist Kuriko Tsugawa, and drummer Yoshifumi Nihonmatsu. As renowned writer for DownBeat, Dan Ouellette describes them “One of the most adventurous young bands that is auspiciously exploring jazz with its national heritage in mind is UoU, a quintet of musicians who hail from Japan.", UoU brings its unique sound inflected by Japanese lyricism and rhythm.
UoU’s debut album "Home" was released worldwide in 2010 from New York based cutting edge jazz record the label, Tippin’ Records. UoU's unipue original music with fuse elements of Japanese inspired melodies, along with American jazz rhythms and harmonies was featured in numerous publication, including, DownBeat, All about Jazz, Jazz Guitar Book, and CD Jornal. Notably, “Home” has ranked #1 on Jazzweek world U.S. radio charts for two consecutive week based on national air play.
In 2013, UoU’s second album "Take the 7 Train" was released also from Tippin’ Records. This album brought them a great deal of critical acclaim across the globe. Down Beat reviews it as "Each musician, from alto saxophonist Takuji Yamada to guitarist Daisuke Abe and drummer Yoshifumi Nihonmatsu, handle their respective instruments with a deep sense of tradition, and more importantly, consistent expression." AllAboutJazz.com describes the music thus:"The group's synergy is unveiled through immersible compositions soulfulness along with technical viability; varied musical elements; memorable individual solos; and a panoptic band aesthetic that is cohesive and engaging. Equally telling as composers, each member contributes material that accentuates the group as well as their own abilities."
It had been a long journey for all five talented young musicians and composers from their start in Japan. They first arrived in the U.S.A. to study at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts during the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. Upon completion at Berklee, the members of UoU moved to New York City, and individually began working with top artists on the scene including: Aaron Parks, Mark Turner, Gretchen Parlato, Walter Blanding, Rodney Green, Marcus Printup, among many others, before they formed UoU in early 2008. Even though three members of UoU have moved back to Japan (only Daisuke and Kuriko remain in Queens, New York), the quintet remains intact, linking up together on tours in Japan and in the U.S.
UoU was named after their motto "You Owe You(yourself)".
UoU is creating music which they hope it to be your treat and someting you could use as a return what you owe yourself.
Takuji Yamada, born on February 11th, 1980 in Sapporo, Japan. He took up alto saxophone at the age of 12, and start playing Jazz at the age of 16. He entered Senzoku Gakuen Junior College, and studied with Seiichi Nakamura. Takuji also started playing bass clarinet at this time.
In 2002, he entered Berklee Collge of Music, Boston, studied with Andy McGhee, Dave Santoro and more. In May 2003, he appeared on SIRIUS Satellite Radio in their State-of-The-Art studios at Rockefeller Center. The program was heard across the U.S. He has also performed at Blue Note New York, as a member of Berklee Scholarship Jazz Ensemble, which consists of some of the top instrumentalists at Berklee.
In 2004, He performed in North Sea Jazz Festival in Nederland as a member Chie Imaizumi Group.
After graduation from Berklee, Takuji move to New York and had numerous sessions with great players including Danny Grissette, Luques Curtis and Quincy Davis.
He moved back to Japan on October 2008. Since then, he had played great musicians and joined Yoshio Suzuki (Stan Getz '74, Art Blakey'75-'76) group.
On October 2009, he won the 1st prize at the "Yokohama Jazz Promenade Competition", and also won the 2nd prize at the "Asakusa Jazz Contest" with his band.
Born in Tokyo, Japan, started playing Guitar at age 15.
Daisuke started playing jazz at the Jazz course of Senzoku Gakuen college in Yokohama, Japan and graduated at the head of the class 1999.
Daisuke received a world scholarship to Berklee College of music where he graduated from in Spring 2002. He also got "Louis Bellson Award " from the school.
During his stay in Boston, he studied and played with great Jazz musicians such as Hal crook, Tiger Okoshi, George Gazone and many others.
Since moving to NY, Daisuke has been performing his unique compositions with his band in Jazz clubs in NY area include Bluenote, Dizzy's Club Coca Cola, Smalls and Cleopatra's Needle.
Daisuke's debut record have released worldwide from Nagel-Heyer record in Fall 2005.
The record was produced by Rodny Green and the CD contains 9 of Daisuke's original compositions.
Daisuke has worked with;
Mark Turner, Jon Cowherd, Anthony Wonsey, Walter Blanding, Marcus Printup, Gretchen Parlato, Rodney Green, Matt Brewer, Aaron Parks, Walter Smith, John Elis, Jaleel Shaw and many others
1983 -Started playing Hammond Organ and Piano
1989 -Received Hammond Teaching license
1990 -1st prize @ Hammond Organ All Japan Competition
1994 –Started live performances at many venues in Fukuoka area
1998 -B.M. from Seinan Gakuin University majoring in international culture
2002 –Recorded and toured as a member of RAV. Trombones
-Began teaching at Macky Music School
2003 –Appearance at Nogata Jazz Festival
–Received Berklee College of Music World Award Scholarship
2004 –Moved to Boston to attend Berklee College of Music (studied with Hal Crook, Ray Santisi, Herb Pomeroy, George Gazone, Ed Tomassi)
-Began gigging in New England area
-Performed with Renese King (Boston Pops Soloist) and Melrose Symphony Orchestra
2005 – Mary Jane Earnhart Ellison Endowed Scholarship Award
-BPC Piano Festival performance as Yoko Komori Trio
-Toured with Karen Groth (Walt Disney Movie Recorded Singer)
-Released CD “Groovin’ with Lee” by Mitsuharu Furuno from Newbury Street Records
2006 –Moved to New York and actively performing at Jazz Clubs
- The Algonquin Hotel ,Oak Room (NY) (performed for 2 weeks with Samantha Sidley)
-Studio Recording for Samantha Sidley’s CD in Los Angeles
2007-Recorded CD ‘In The Afternoon’ as a co-reader with Kuriko Tsugawa
2008－Performed at Kitano Hotel, NY with Kuriko Tsugawa and Rodney Green
-Recorded CD ‘Life’ by Satoko Kajita
2009-Moved to Fukuoka, Japan
Performing around Kyushu area
Born in Tokyo (Japan) Kuriko Tsugawa started playing bass at the age of fifteen. Soon after she joined what would become her first jazz ensemble experience, the Tomisato High School big band, affectionately known as “The Mad Hatters”. As a member of “The Mad Hatters”, she had the opportunity to perform at major festivals throughout Japan. Recognition was waiting around the corner, and it was in 1999 that she and her bandmates won the first prize from the Student Jazz Festival that is held every year by Japan Association For Jazz Education.
For three consecutive years Kuriko’s “Mad Hatters” shared bill with visiting artist Monterey High School Big Band in an annual festival held in Tomisato, Japan. This
enriching annual encounters were the spark that ignited Kuriko´s passionate decision to pursue jazz music in the United States as a career.
Upon graduation from Tomisato High School she studied privately with Kazuteru Harada and Koichi Osamu for a year, preparing to pursue her dream of studying jazz in the US.
In 2001, she auditioned for Berklee College of Music and won a scholarship to attend the college starting in 2002. She was now one step closer to her dream.
Since her arrival in Boston she had the opportunity to study with renowned jazz educators like Hal Crook, Dave Santoro, John Lockwood, Ron Mahdi and the late Herb Pomeroy, and she played with jazz legends like Joe Lovano, George Garzone, Delfeayo Marsalis, Randy Brecker, Yellow Jackets founder Russ Ferrante, Makoto Ozone and Danilo Perez. Besides her many inspiring mentors Kuriko found in Boston a vibrant generation of like-minded young musicians who have been as crucial for her development as any of her professors.
Her time in Boston paid off, and her quick improvements lead to a really busy performing schedule. Besides such Boston musts as Wally’s Jazz Café and Ryles Jazz Club Kuriko performed in a variety of festivals around the New England area and in 2006 was selected as a member of a quartet representing Berklee in Lucca Jazz Donna Festival in Italy.
2006 was also the year that marked the end of Kuriko’s Bostonian era and saw the beginning of a new one that which came with the inevitable move to New York City. Within weeks of arriving in New York she was fortunate enough to land a steady gig in The Algonquin Hotel in Times Square. Since then she has gotten increasingly active in the fervent New York jazz scene such as Cleopatra’s Needle, Smalls, Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, Fat Cat, Londel’s Supper Club and many more. And she keeps evolving day by day with the confidence and passion which comes from making one’s dreams come true…
She is currently working as a member of Walter Blanding Group, Anthony Wonsey Quintet and Daisuke Abe Trio.
Yoshifumi Nihonmatsu was born in Fukushima, Japan. Since his mother is a singer and a music educator, classical music and musical instruments surrounded Yoshi at home. He began formal lessons on piano at the age of three. He started playing drums and classical percussion when he was a junior high school student.
In 1994, Yoshi won Gold (1st) prize in the All Japan Ensemble Competition. After winning 1st prize, he did a concert tour in Australia. He was presented Canberra Honorary Citizenship in the field of music from Canberra, Australia. He enrolled in Senzoku Gakuen Junior College to study Jazz with the top musicians in Japan in 1997. There he studied the drums with Masahiko Osaka. Yoshi has performed several venues all over Japan, since he began his studies at the college. In 2001, he received numerous scholarships to attend Berklee College of Music, where he had studied with George Garzone, Jamey Haddad, Joe Hunt, Jon Hazilla, Ed Kaspik, Dave Santoro, Casey Scheuerell and so on. In May 2003, he appeared on SIRIUS Satellite Radio in their State-of-The-Art studios at Rockefeller Center. The program was heard across the U.S. He has also performed at Blue Note New York, as a member of Berklee Scholarship Jazz Ensemble, which consists of some of the top instrumentalists at Berklee.
Since arriving in New York, he has been in high demanded as a freelance drummer, performing in famous clubs such as Blue Note New York, 55 Bar, Fat Cat, Smoke, Cleopatra's Needle. He has also led his own group YNT (Yoshi Nihonmatsu Trio) in several venues in and around the city.