Hiroya Tsukamoto
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Hiroya Tsukamoto


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""Heartland" album review"

Hiroya Tsukamoto "Heartland," 2012 Hiroya Tsukamoto's musical career began in his early teens when he took up the banjo and, shortly after, the acoustic guitar. During his college years in Japan, he became influenced by the South American Nueva Cancion movement, stylistic notes of which are evident in "Heartland," the fifth recording to feature Tsukamoto on the guitar, and the first to prominently feature his vocal work. Some of the compositions in "Heartland" are languid, some are upbeat, and many feature original Japanese lyrics that are introspective, nostalgic, and deeply connected to the natural world. While American listeners may not understand the language, they will certainly find the melodies of the songs and the rhythms of the words as fluid, alluring, and engaging as Tsukamoto's playing itself. This artist's abilities are especially highlighted in the solo instrumental compositions ("La Primavera," "Gemni Bridge," "Going to Durango," and the album's namesake, "Heartland") that are thoughtfully interwoven throughout the lyric songs and bookend the album in a neat prelude-postlude fashion. These ease the listener in and out of Tsukamoto's more contemplative vocal pieces, and afford the best chances to really appreciate his precision, movement, expressiveness, and dynamic playing. - minor 7th.com

"CD Review "Solo""

Hiroya Tsukamoto, "Solo," 2011

While one shouldn't judge a book -- or a CD -- by its cover, it's hard not to be a bit awed by the appearance of Hiroya Tsukamoto's first solo offering. Gorgeous, spare, sublime -- these adjectives also apply to the music of "Solo," a work of atmospheric beauty that reveals different aspects upon each listen. These are meditative, reflective pieces with highly evocative titles like "Tears," "Waiting for April," "Longing," and "From Coast to Coast" that spin seductive images in the mind while inducing tranquility. Tsukamoto says in his album notes that he began experimenting with DADGAD tuning one day and within a few weeks completed the 10 songs in this collection. Indeed, these pieces relate organically to each other in an extended meditation, opening with the chiming tones of "Icy Day." Such electrifying harmonics are a distinctive feature of Tsukamoto's compositions, which display world, fusion, and progressive jazz leanings and are characterized by slow to medium tempos, lyrical melodies, and hypnotically rhythmic arpeggios. Tsukamoto, originally from Kyoto, Japan, came to the United States on a scholarship to Berklee College of Music and has released three previous albums with his band Interoceanico. His sensibilities are genteel and restrained, and his compositions involve much repetition and pattern making, yet within those constraints there is such intricate variety that the listener remains thoroughly absorbed. In just one example, "Soledad" includes a light rapid arpeggio pattern with an ethereal melody, followed by numerous variations, a fiery progression of jazzy chords, and a return to the arpeggio that opened the piece. "Salvador," too, is a labyrinth of variations unfolding one out of the next. Throughout, Tsukamoto plays with fluid mastery, pristine tone, and great warmth. - minor 7th

"CD Review "Confluencia""

The moniker identifies the trio as an inter-oceanic entity, featuring a Japanese and Argentinean contingent. As they merge a worldly perspective into an upbeat jazz-guitar trio format. Think of rolling waves of sound and climactic opuses, where tuneful themes attain a seamless coexistence with jazz improvisation amid the band’s forward-looking gait.

Electric bassist Moto Fukushima employs a fat, bottom-end sound here. Consequently, the musicians’ respective stylizations render a complementing vibe. They morph chops, passion and warmth throughout this divergent track mix. Guitarist Hiroya Tsukamoto generates some heat on occasion, but for the most part, his artisanship consists of nimble chord voicings, genteel harmonics and fluid single note phrasings. In effect, the musicians reshape a contemporary world-groove vision into a comprehensive and stylistic string of works. You’ll hear a Latin element to coincide with Asian folk inferences, progressive-jazz and much more.

They prove that variety is indeed the spice of life while maintaining a cohesive group-based methodology. Moreover, the artists skirt the free-zone during their playful 3-way dialogues on the piece titled, "South." And convey razor-sharp precision designed with ascending choruses on "Sakhalin." At the end of the day, this unit should conceivably enjoy widespread appeal within the global jazz spectrum. (Zealously recommended.... ) - Jazz Review.com

"CD Review "Confluencia""

The overall character of Interoceánico 3’s first CD Confluencia is one of finesse and beauty. For the most part, this CD imparts a mood of peace and tranquility, despite its rhythmic motifs and pulse-quickening outbursts, as it takes you into its subtle world of sounds. Interoceánico 3 is the trio version of guitarist Hiroya Tsukamoto’s 8-piece jazz/Latin (nueva cancion)/contemporary group who themselves have recorded only one CD thus far. The trio consists of Tsukamoto on guitar, Moto Futushima on bass and Franco Pinna on drums.
The thirteen-track offering is a generous one with approximately 70 minutes of music. The three musicians work together flawlessly, creating a unified style. Most of the pieces are composed by Hiroya Tsukamoto, three were collaborations of all three members and the bass introduction to “Sakhalin” was written by bassist Moto Fukushima.

Tsukamoto’s guitar style is heavily classical, precise and clear. In some tunes, for example, “Carnavalito 18” and “Bicicleta”, Spanish and even flamenco influences become evident. Precision and attention to detail is a quality the guitarist shares with drummer Franco Pinna and bassist Moto Futushima, whose melodic playing on this CD is often virtuosic. An equal part of the trio, drummer Franco Pinna’s work is exceptional throughout with lots of fine cymbal and stick work. He is not a power drummer but neither is he a minimalist drummer. His solos in “Carnavalito” and “Seventh Night” are just two shining examples of his style. “Everlasting” shows off both Tsukamoto’s beautiful playing and Futushima’s gorgeous fat bass tones, as do many other pieces for that matter.

Two pieces that move in a different direction are “South” and “Brooklyn Bound”. “South” is more impressionistic with lots of open space. “Brooklyn Bound”, the second-last piece on the CD, exhibits an uncharacteristic darkness. With its introductory off-sounding clock strikes, hammering, scraping metal and loose string sounds it ventures into avant territory. At only two minutes, thirty-eight seconds, it was over too soon.

The last piece on the disc, “Till the end of Time”, moves back to more characteristic sounds with the beautiful guitar, bass and drum work of the trio clocking in at a more satisfying five minutes plus.

Overall, this is a very fine CD of well-played and well-recorded music. Some of it is perhaps a little smooth for my taste. I do come away from my listening thinking I’d like to hear a little less reserve or a little less repetition. It’s hard to put my finger on it, because much of it I enjoyed immensely. Make no mistake, these are excellent musicians.

reviewed by Joyce Corbett — December 2007 - The Live Music Report

"CD Review "The Other Side of the World""

While attending the Osaka University of Foreign Studies in the early part of the 1990s, guitarist Hiroya Tsukamoto developed a fancy for South American music, namely the Nueva Canción movement of Victor Jara (a fatality of Pinochet’s US-sponsored military coup in 1973) and Violeta Parra. He soon formed a likeminded jazz group called Playa Azul and went out on the road. A few years later he was chosen to perform with Voces del Sur as the group toured across Japan.

In this increasingly interconnected world of ours, a musician smitten by the music of a culture other than his own no longer seems so unique or charmingly eccentric as it once might have. Still, Tsukamoto’s devotion to South American music is more keen than most. In 2000 it drew him to pursue further education at Boston’s Berklee College of Music, where he has since teamed up with others who share his interest.

Interoceánico is Tsukamoto’s newest project, an eight-strong outfit which came together during his stint at Berklee. The Other Side of the World is the group’s first album. For the mood-setting opener, “Voces de la Sierra,” vocalists Marta Gómez and Alejandra Ortiz seem content to dwell in carefree, spontaneous morphemes, surfing Tsukamoto’s sunny, octopoidal acoustic guitar picking and the assertive piano of Andrew Kim; but then the track collapses into an unnerving, atonal piano solo, climbing after a time back to its grassy plateau of rainbows and singing birds. The combined effect is enchanting.

A more distinct Latin flavor pervades the following track, “Vistas del Pasado,” more than likely due to Gómez’s lyrics (in Spanish, of course) and the inclusion of Dan Brantigan’s mariachi-like flugelhorn. The music here, as on so much of The Other Side of the World, is straightforward. Only occasionally does it hint at hidden complexities. Tsukamoto’s subdued guitar intro is the longest focus on a single instrument. The central development section plays with the melody but doesn’t aim for individual fireworks. In other words, this is very much a unified effort, and it results in a more reserved and traditional song format. The album’s next instrumentals—“What We Have Lost,” “Something Reminds Me of You”—stylistically have much in common with the opener (Gómez’s and Ortiz’s sung morphemes again), but they are slightly more exploratory.

Swaying forward on a funkified samba rhythm, “Sceneries” may qualify as the most exotic track on the disc, if only because it is sung in Tsukamoto’s native Japanese. The final track, the bittersweet “Summerville,” brings The Other Side of the World to a solemn close, carried to its conclusion by Brantigan’s fluid, though occasionally feeble, flugelhorn solo, and Gómez quietly insisting: “Soñaré este lugar cuando vuelvo al mundo real” (“I will dream of this place when I return to the real world”). And so, too, will we continue to dream in soft focus of this tranquil, modest debut when faced with the harsher world outside. - All About Jazz

"CD Review "The Other Side of the World""

Japanese born and Osaka University of Foreign Studies (Japan) and Berklee College of Music (Boston) trained guitarist Hiroya Tsukamoto is the leader of the eight-member ensemble collective known as Interoceanico. This group is, at its core, really a guitar/bass/drum trio with rotating additional members on various pieces and performs, in various guises, frequently in the Boston area, where they have a built a core of faithful enthusiasts.
As a composer Tsukamoto was inspired, while studying in Japan, by the South American Nueva Cancion (New Song) movement, and brings these sensibilities to the ensemble’s repertoire as chief composer and visionary. The real strength of the ensemble’s sound is the light and breezy melodies Tsukamoto is able to create for the various instrumental configurations. They are fresh, subtle and instantly likeable and the rotating cast keeps the soundscape from becoming repetitive. The group’s young musicians certainly understand the music and perform the melodic passages with grace and sophistication belying their youth; the oldest can’t be close to 30. The use of one or two vocalists, at various times, gives the ensemble a sweet sound reminiscent of the early recordings of Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66 or Walter Wanderley. Both Marta Gomez and Alejandra Ortiz have a clear vocal technique which perfectly suits Tsukamoto’s graceful lines, and the women’s individual voices, while not matching, fit superbly together in a complementary fashion on this material.

Drummer/percussionist Franco Pinna’s work deserves special attention. His cymbal playing ranks with some of the best recorded last year. In it is found the perfect example of how a light stick touch, played across and delicately through individual cymbals, can have just as much strength of statement in soft passages as the best loudly-powerful speed-metal drummer.

The trouble with the disc is best summed up by noted jazz drummer Joe Chambers, as quoted in the August 2004 issue of Downbeat magazine. On a totally different topic, but no less true here, he was quoted as saying, "Traditionally, jazz artists have apprenticed in bands. But today that’s not happening. That’s what’s wrong with jazz now." In this recording each of the musicians easily shows great promise and potential, but they do, unmistakably, sound green. While they perform nicely and the overall playing is appealing, each of the individual musicians still sound, for the lack of a better word, inexperienced. It just does not sound like they have come up with their own identifiable concepts, and thus the playing of the melodies goes well, but not all of the solo sections. For example, you can hear Tsukamoto working out his improvisational concepts during his solo on El Otro Lado del Mundo and trumpeter/flugelhornist Dan Brantigan gets a little iffy with his tone and air flow, beyond being emotive, during his solo on Summerville.

These problems aside, this recording is a good effort these rising young musicians will be able to look back upon with smiles when they become old and grizzled musical veterans. - Jazz Review.com


As a leader:

"Heartland" Hiroya Tsukamoto (2012)
"Solo" Hiroya Tsukamoto (2011)
"Where the River Shines" Interoceanico (2008)
"Confluencia" Interoceanico (2006)
"The Other Side of the World" (2004)

As a sideman:

"Soredemo Sakurawasaku"Izumi Chiba (2011)
"Chacarera " Chris Michael
"Songs, My Eternal Love" Vian (2010)
"Mari Tochi" Mari Tochi (2009)
"Precious" Mika Mimura (2009)
"Twenty+" Vian (2007)



Hiroya Tsukamoto is a guitarist and singer-songwriter from Kyoto, Japan. He began playing the five-string banjo.

In 2000, Hiroya received a scholarship to Berklee College of Music and came to the United States. He released five albums as a leader. Hiroya has been leading concerts with his group including several appearances at Blue Note in New York and he performed and shared the stage with Esperanza Spalding(Grammy Artist), Seth Glier, Marta Gomez, Kendrick Scott(The Crusadors), Pete Kennedy(The Kennedys) and Dave Maxwell(Muddy Waters Band).

Hiroya's recent album is "Heartland" which was released in 2012 from 333discs. In October 2012, Hiroya did four days live performances on Japan National TV(NHK).


New England Folk Festival
International Festival of Arts and Ideas
Black Potatoes Music Festival
Long Island Jazz Festival
Rhythm 'N' Blooms Fest
New Bedford Summerfest
Lowell Folk Festival
Montauk Music Festival
Kobe World Music Festival

TV Appearances:

NHK TV (Japan Public TV)
Ditty TV (TN)
Folk Project TV (NJ)
EBS TV Show (Korea)


"Tsukamoto plays with fluid mastery, pristine tone, and great warmth." -Celine Keating (author) / minor7th.com

"Hiroya has pioneered a sub-genre of world music that mirrors the multicultural make up of the ensemble" -The Asahi

" Hiroya formed a love for music of the southern United States and in turn developed his beautiful and timeless style of guitar playing". -Ditty TV

"...chops, passion and warmth. Zealously recommended." -Jazz Review.com

"He delivers skillful and innovative guitar instrumental solos" -Folk Project

"Impressive CD!" -Mel DeYoung (Folk Show(WPSU) Cordinator & Host)

"His music is earthy, organic and an amalgam of elements imported from diverse genres" -The Groove

"...imparts a mood of piece and tranquility. -The Live Music Report