KAI KUROSAWA | BIOGRAPHY
Kai Kurosawa picked up the electric bass at the age of fifteen. Today his primary axe is Kūbo (aka the Aircraft Carrier); a custom 15-string instrument which he co-developed with renowned luthiers Michael & Daniel Tobias (MTD). Kai is self-taught and also self-created fresh new cutting edge musical techniques for this unique instrument. Widely considered as truly one of a kind player, he is frequently invited to teach seminars and clinics in the United States, Europe, and Asia. He is consistently busy working with various bands and creative projects; genres include jazz, progressive metal, rock, pop, and electronic music. When not on tour, he works as a producer/programmer and gives online lessons. Kai currently resides in Los Angeles.
There was always music playing in the house, mostly classical, sometimes pop. Kai learned to play piano from his mother until the age of 12. He would also try his hand at trumpet, trombone and guitar. He started playing bass parts on the guitar for a few months and decided the bass was the right instrument for him. He bought a 4 string bass and made some of his first solo compositions. His mother to this day says the core of Kai's compositions hasn't changed.
SOLO CAREER & PROJECTS
"DOUBTS" was the first album in 2002. It featured trio and quartet tunes. Since then he has released 3 solo albums, "TRIAL TRAIL TALES" 2016, "MORE TO IT" 2017, “Past Point Progression” 2018, and a new album for 2019 is also in the works.
GOT MONK? is a project that has released 6 albums to date and will be releasing their 7th album in 2019. The group is now focused as a duo with the drummer Kegoi.
"LIVE AT CURVE LINE SPACE" 2012, "GOTRIONK!" 2013, "A COMMON WINDOW" 2014, “2.0 - Live at Jack Lion -” 2018, “the ARCHITECTURE SESSION” 2019 and “the 5th Session” 2019.
SEMINARS & CLINICS
Instruments such as the Chapman Stick, Warr Guitar, Touch Guitar etc have so many variations on the tuning. Students are able to take lessons from Kai and learn from his deep in-sight on tapping, independence as well as his new techniques. There is plenty of laughs shared in his lessons as Kai enjoys keeping everyone's mind and body loose.
Kai has taught at California Institute of the Arts, Los Angeles College of Music, Musicians Institue (Hollywood, Tokyo, Osaka, Sendai, Nagoya, Fukuoka), ESP Music Academy, Chapman University, Cal Poly Pomona, Whatcom Community College, Académie d'été de Wallonie, European Tap Seminar, Koyo Music school, Japan Tap Seminar, Marshal High School, Community Arts and Partnership, Valencia High School, Elmira High School, Bridgeport Elementary, Big Boss Kanazawa, So la Music Academy, Cornerstone Music Conservatory, University of Nevada, Reno, Nagoya University of Arts, Walt Whitman High School, Inner City Arts, Bridges Academy.
Master of Fine Arts in Music: California Institute of the Arts, May 2005
Bachelor of Arts in Music : Berklee College of Music, May 2002
Kai has gone on to collaborate and perform with Thomas Lang, Gary Novak, Shane Gibson (Korn), Vinny Golia, Daniel Rosenboom, Hiromi, Collide, Alan Paul (Manhattan Transfer), Hands On’semble, Charmaine Clamore, Andrea Centazzo, Ponta Shuichi, Kiyomi Otaka, Koichi Yabori, Toshi Hiketa, ISAO (babymetal), IKUO, Los Angeles Electric 8, Satoshi Bando, Koji Hasegawa, Keisuke Komori, and many more
“Kai stunned on the obscure Bear Trax: a hollow-bodied with two parallel fretboards, played simultaneously. His “Turkish Rondo” solo was like a duel between guitar and bass masters.”
Asian American Jazz Festival
-- Kirk Silsbee, Downbeat Magazine
“… The guy is obviously a virtuoso, with a mind-boggling right/left brain command… When Kurosawa did get a solo feature -- on an unannounced heavy fusion piece -- he definitely got down, sounding like an amphetamine driven Alphonso Johnson underwater.”
-- Robert Bush, NBC San Diego
“the MJF "What Is That Thing, And Does The Supportive Truss Come With It?" award goes to bassist Kai Kurosawa, playing an electric thing that had two necks, a gazillion strings and a design that screamed "mad scientist meets luthier.”
Monterey Jazz Festival
-- David Becker, AXS
“SHARP THREE can truly be called—not World Music—but Global Music. The same can be said of Kai Kurosawa and his writing.
Kai’s bass instrument of choice is the 24-string Beartrax “Big Mama Bear” that Kai himself designed. It is best described as a Chapman Stick on steroids.
The solo improvisational "explosion" at the end is all Kai. He is actually holding down the bass line at the same time.
“Lullaby for a Content” is from Kai’s pen and his skill with the 6-string bass proves that Kai is not a gear-head who relies on technology but rather on technique, not machinery but musicianship.
SHARP THREE : Zero Cool”
-- Travis Rogers, Jr., JazzTimes.com
“Kai Kurosawa stalking and soaring on tapped extra-stringed Warr guitar”
Angel City Jazz Festival
-- Greg Burk, MetalJazz.com
“… Kai Kurosawa on warr guitar / bass ... Again I was really amazed to hear a warr guitar played within a metallic based band. This, to me gives the music more dimensions. Kudos to Kai! Here’s hoping Kai as well as the others will contribute more than just live.”
Collide : Live at the El Rey & Like the Hunted
“The trio is fired by the spirit of adventure, yet each musician knows that the take-off point is integral to the success of the journey. Their empathy is apparent throughout the recording.”
Andrea Centazzo : West Coast Trio (2008)
-- JERRY D'SOUZA, All About Jazz
“Kai Kurosawa was brought in to provide his tap guitar artistry via a couple of custom axes called a “bear trax” and a “ziggy.” This is already getting interesting.”
Daniel Rosenboom Quintet : Fire Keeper
-- S. VICTOR AARON, Something Else Reviews
“Kai Kurosawa's Warr Guitar Conterpoint is a well-crafted additive process piece featuring Kurosawa's own Warr Guitar… Interlocking Textures is an exciting album of electric guitar arrangements you won't hear anywhere else.”
Los Angeles Electric 8 : Interlocking Textures
-- Daniel Corral
“Kurosawa's deft playing of the Bear Trax provides a bass line appropriate to any number of funk style…”
-- Mike Oppenheim, All About Jazz
“the verses are calmer and show the versatile solo techniques within the group, especially Kai… The best thing about this album, however, is that it can be listened to repeatedly and you’ll still likely hear something new or identify an unknown voice you couldn’t place before.”
SHARP THREE : MU
-- Lorelei Clarke, JazzReview.com
“… the relentless jabs of Kurosawa, setting up an explosive melodic unison… Ornette-ian challenge that Kurosawa splits apart with a solo that toggles between the sounds of 70s synthesizers and Jamaaladeen Tacuma underwater… Complex and exciting, Fire Keeper burns, lurches, and leaps with intelligent virtuosity and a breathtaking sense of ensemble cohesion. This might be where jazz is heading—so strap in and enjoy the ride.”
Daniel Rosenboom Quintet : Fire Keeper
-- Robert Bush, All About Jazz
“Sharp Three is not an album that you will be able to discover in a few listens. The music is at times pretty complex and cerebral bit also, surprisingly, has raw live qualities that we don’t usually expect from this musical genre.
Sharp Three surely deserve that their music be heard by many. Highly recommended.”
SHARP THREE : MU
“Kai Kurosawa, who also plays the Warr Guitar, with an enormous fret board, the Warr guitar produces sounds unlike you’ve ever heard. It’s this blend of traditional and modern instrumentation that makes Kai’s work so fascinating.
Sharp Three is a treasure of diverse musical influences and unique orchestral arrangements that provide a deeply colorful sound experience. A must have for any music enthusiast.”
SHARP THREE : MU
-- John Cola, drum.com
“Sharp Three put a wide mix of music together on their album, Zero Cool. Surpassing the quotidian jazz clichés about "moments" and "hipness," this album possesses sonority where even the stoniest non- emotes hear spirituality, Sharp Three provide music with enough cultural variation to lose self in parts or whole.
Kai Kurasawa on "probably all touch-style instruments in the known universe" is far beyond experimental, (the extreme 24-string Beartrax sound being one of the many).
Sharp Three are their own voices, with mastery of prior greatness and a 'now' liveliness that captures a calm, fresh sound.”
SHARP THREE : Zero Cool
-- Fiona Ord-shrimpton, All About Jazz
“All the musicians are at the top of their field. The group as an ensemble provided even a feeling of comfort despite its completely technical music. Kai Kurosawa commanded the low end and technical unison riffs with his bass and Warr Guitar.”
SPARK 7 live review (translated from Japanese)
-- Young Guitar February 2009