Yasuaki Shimizu
composer, saxophonist, producer

Musical boundaries are no barrier to Yasuaki Shimizu, whose forty-year career spans an impressively broad range of genres. He is recognized for his crossover albums, film soundtracks, and high-profile installations and collaborations. His peerless back catalog reached a wider audience following the 2015 reissue of his band Mariah’s 1983 classic Utakata no Hibi, a masterful hybrid of Japanese folk and pop idioms. Reissued in 2017, cult favorite Kakashi playfully weaves together minimal dub and musique concrète.

In the mid-1990s, Shimizu’s passion for the music of J.S. Bach surfaced in two groundbreaking recordings of the entire Cello Suites—the first-ever tenor saxophone interpretations of these pieces. Shimizu has also recorded as Yasuaki Shimizu & Saxophonettes, and in 2006 he relaunched the Saxophonettes as a saxophone quintet. Following the release of Pentatonica (2007), an album of original and traditional pentatonic tunes, Shimizu returned his focus to Bach, releasing his arrangement—for five saxophones and four contrabasses—of the Goldberg Variations in 2015.

A prolific composer for film and TV, Shimizu has produced soundtracks for, among many others, the Oscar-nominated documentary Cutie and the Boxer (2013), which won Outstanding Achievement for Original Music Score at the Cinema Eye Honors.

Shimizu’s boundary-breaking approach to music goes beyond composition and performance. He views physical space as an extension of his instrument, and often “plays the space,” making use of unique acoustic environments in which to record and play.