Los Angeles based guitarist/composer/shakuhachi player; Shingo Yuji was born in Kumamoto, Japan. At the age of 9 years old his father, an amateur guitarist, introduced him to the guitar – this would signal the beginning of a lifelong passion of music for Shingo.
Shingo took interest in the guitar and by the time he was in high school, Shingo was obsessed with practicing the guitar and studying all kinds of music theories. However, a turning point came when he discovered what would become the greatest influence of his life – the music of Jaco Pastorius. He recalls, “It was something that I had thought impossible to do on the bass guitar, much less a regular guitar. Soon after, I started to try playing what he did on the bass on the guitar. That was the first jazz record I ever purchased and it changed my life.”
Introducing Shingo Yuji is as much of a showcase for Shingo’s composing and arranging chops as it is a vehicle for his playing. Shingo composed five of the eight tracks on the CD. Shingo’s musical concepts are brought to fruition with added vision and help of Dan Schnelle on drums, Dave Robaire on bass, and the amazing saxophonist Walter Smith III, featured on a few tracks.
“Laputa” starts the introduction. Shingo explains, “Laputa” was composed when I was about 19. I wrote it after watching Hayao Miyazaki’s animated film, “Laputa: Castle in the Sky.” Many Japanese from my generation grew up on Miyazaki’s stories and his influence is present to this day.” The awareness that holds this track together is Shingo’s unwavering sense of groove and timeless devotion to melody in both his writing and improvisation.
Shingo can be considered a self-taught musician, but he has taken the time to become familiar with a wide range of styles and theories. His knowledge of the history of jazz is evident in his manipulation of the well explored form and sequence of chord changes known as “Rhythm Changes.” Shingo expands, “I believe this is one of the most fascinating chord changes/forms in jazz music. I re-harmonized the changes with the chords used in Japanese traditional music and wrote the melody with a Japanese minor scale called “In-sen,” which literally translates to shadow scale.” The marriage of two cultures and styles is what makes his artistry and amazing technique that can be appreciated by six string carriers and listeners everywhere.
Shingo has performed with a number of artists including: Victor Wooten, Osa Virtuoso, Willie Jones III, Jazz Amalgamation, Can Yu Sillas, West 79th Street Funk Jazz Band, as well as his own group and is quickly establishing himself on the jazz scene as one to watch, certainly his unique style and sense of creativity and inventive compositional ideas are well-worth the listen and buy, as a debut CD, Yuji certainly more than exceeds expectations.
Tracks: Laputa; Shadows On The Sun; The Dry Cleaner From Des Moines; A Song For The One; Improvisation And Variations On Itsuki Lullaby (Traditional); Ame (Rain) – Interlude; Help; Rashomon.
Personnel: Shingo Yuji: guitar; Walter Smith III: saxophone (1&2); Dave Robaire: bass; Dan Schnelle: drums.