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Delicate, soft and nuanced, this guitar sax duo will make you shout out`beautiful " every song and every solo.
On first listen, I assumed all the songs were standards I didn`t know. " I kept wondering in my head, " What was that tune? I know that."
But then, after looking at the notes, I realized they were all originals by Ito(except " The Things I Didn`t Do " which opens and closes the CD)-they all just sound like standards.

And maybe they will be. The songs are amazingly pretty. Most have a smooth easy moduration of chords. with lots of complexity from Ito`s guitar.
" Monday Night Special " sounds like a Jobim songs. with a light melody and neat flow of chord changes that move like layers of soft paper.
" Breeze Me, Sky Me " seems to do just that, with a light and flowing melody line that moves upward gently and calmly.
Other songs like " Modern Bluesology " are meatier, but still keep a beautifully lyrical approach.

The rapport of Ito and Nakamura forms the heart of the music. They both play with warmth and humanness.
On " Ramonada ," their conversation tumbles and turns up and down at an easy pace.
The melody heads up high, then comfortably falls back down like a friend patting you on the back.
The pleasure these two feel in this music comes through on every line.

The guitar has a Brazilian feeling,plucking neat harmonies and keeping a swaying rhthm, while Nakamura`s tone stays full and resonant.
Though there are only two musicians here, the felling all the way through is something like layers of sound.
The lightness of both of the players creates its own beauty, but it is a complex one. Nakamura`s saxphone holds all sorts of shadings, innner tones and beauty subtleties.
Ito`s guitar is plucked and strummed with a sense of accenting, stating and speaking.
Both Ito and Nakamura have a strong, individual voice, but one that harmonizes with the other perfectly.

This music is not in a hurry. It has an easy pace that takes pleasure in every note. they ease into notes, enjoy them, and then move on to the next.
This is not slow tempo music, but rather it always dances ahead with a comfortable balance of all elements.
The philosopher Aristotle said 2000 years ago that beauty comes from balance, and " Serenata " is the perfect embodiment of that ideal.

Michael Pronko

Michael Pronko comes from Kansas City, United States. His father had a large jazz record collection, and he played piano for many years. He lived and worked in Beijing, China before moving to Tokyo to teach. Currently, he teaches American literature and culture at Meiji Gakuin University. Since 2004, he has served as editorial director, writer and photographer for JAZZNIN. He also writes about jazz for the Japan Times and about Tokyo for Newsweek Japan.


<PJL/JAZZBANK MTCJ-1022> Recorded live at Roppongi Pit-Inn, June, 21, 1991
<One of historical recording of guitar fusion music in Japan>
Among the many Japanese jazz musicians living in New York City, Shinobu Ito best catches the atmosphere of this city. Creating innovative sounds in an impressive high-rise building named Manhattan Plaza, known as home to many musicians at midtown Westside.
Just as bassist Yoshio Suzuki and guitarist Ryo Kawasaki have been creating their own musical experience on New York's spirit, Shinobu has spent a quarter of a century in this city, since August 1977.
Not only has he deeply penetrated America's music scene but has a great talent as a melody maker who has a unique identity reflecting his Japanese roots.
He has a solid guitar technique and is able to play a wide range of music from classical to jazz to pops.
It would not be a mistake to say that Shinobu Ito is one of most impressive artists in New York City, for his wide range of musical capacity and guitar technique. Holding his live performances in the last few years to a few special appearances.
Resuming activities as composer / guitarist in New York, he also reunited with fellow musicians in Tokyo, Japan in 1991. Together they released a CD called "One life to live". This is a live recording at one of the most famous live clubs in Tokyo then, and still now called" Roppongi Pit-inn".
Among the many legendary live performances at this club when fusion music was at its peak, this live recording proves us as to be one of the best musical groups for it's unique quality. Shinobu Ito's haunting melodies, great compositions and arrangements bring out the best of this musical group, adding one more chapter to the "Roppongi Pit-inn" legend, in spite of it's being recorded 10 years ago.
Shinobu Ito was born in Japan.
While a young boy, his father bought him a guitar and he devoted his childhood ambitions and effort to becoming a noted guitarist in the future.
He became interested in jazz guitar when he listened to Wes Montgomery in his high school days. The respected guitar teacher, Ikuo Shiozaki gave him lessons while he was a member of the Tokai University jazz circle. He's got culture shock for American music and atmosphere while he was staying in Los Angeles for 6 months in 1975. It was then he decided to immigrate to America permanently.
When he did return in 1975 to Japan, He joined The Yoshiko Kimura (Vocal) group, also resuming activities with top class musicians like Seiichi Nakamura, Shigeharu Mukai, Hidefumi Toki, Takao Uematsu etc.
This recording was done with these musicians who he's known since he was lived in Japan. Back in 1977, he was chosen as one of top popular guitarists by Swing Journal magazine, he also played with Tete Montruex who was visiting at that time.
Although he was expected to resume activities as one of leading guitarists on the Japanese jazz scene, he moved to New York City as he planned and has been here ever since. As soon as he reached New York City, the rumors about him spread to New York's whole music scene.
As Yoshiaki Masuo achieved his fame by playing for Sonny Rollins, Shinobu Ito spent his schedule as a guitarist for a 10 piece band directed by Reggie Workman, Teruo Nakamura & his Rising Sun band, leader for all Japanese musicians. He was also called for many recordings & sessions and played with Ricky Ford <nicknamed" jazz wolf", He was a very popular rising star back then as Joshua Redman is today> and was also was living at Manhattan Plaza.
He performed at Blue Note, 55 Bar etc. He has been spending most of his time on his own compositions, since one of them was selected by Billboard magazine in a song contest in 1988.
He believes playing in public provides musicians with more energy, and knows that live performances are the most important thing for jazz musicians.
His first CD "Sailing Rolling" produced by Yoshio Suzuki demonstrated his abilities as a melody maker. You can find these songs included in this CD entitled "In love for keeps" "Minutos Para Rio" and "Far away". All of music were written by Shinobu Ito except "S.O.S" by Wes Montgomery.
Those compositions are very melodious and I wish I could add words to them, They are also great as jazz compositions.
Incidentally, Shinobu Ito took this CD's beautiful night sight cover picture from his balcony at Manhattan Plaza.
I feel jealous of him. I wonder what it would be like living here like this, watching these sights everyday. I hear Shinobu Ito is now concentrating on his new composition with a grand piano <He plays piano to compose> in Manhattan Plaza. I would really expect his beautiful new compositions to reflect the full mood of Manhattan very soon.
Tetsuya Yanagisawa / JAZZBANK RECORDS

SHINOBU ITO CD: Musica para Enamorados / RAMONADA

“Shinobu Ito is probably the guitarist most worth of attention in Japan right now.”

For many years, Shinobu Ito has lived in New York, putting his body and soul into the jazz scene, representing the essence of mainstream jazz.

For someone who has been watching him for the past ten years, this new album represents quite a change in direction. The new musical aspects he is challenging are all quite interesting, and the result is certainly quite significant in the world of jazz guitar.

Ito left for the U.S. back in 1977, and some fourteen years later returned to Tokyo in 1991, and played a session at the Pit Inn jazz club. Ito had made his album debut as a fusion player, and the session included old friends Ken Shima on piano, Hidefumi Toki on alto sax and Kenji Takamizu on electric bass. However, what I heard on the live session recording “One Life To Live” these were not the songs I remember from my youth. Apart from ‘S.O.S.’ by Wes Montgomery, all songs were originals by Ito, with very beautiful melodies.

Ito’s capabilities have been well recognized in the musical composition awards sponsored by Billboard magazine. While this has been well publicized, Ito doesn’t favor remaining in this category.

After he returned to New York, he took a direction not quite possible for a guitarist in Japan’s jazz scene – he felt he needed to question himself on what musical direction he should be taking. As a guitarist, he reached out toward the musical treasure chest of Spain, and of Latin America, and listened broadly and deeply for sources of inspiration.

Traditional music for guitar draws heavily upon tango, choro and flamenco, and Ito found inspiration in the works of Enrique Granados and Isaac Albéniz, along with contemporary Latin American composers Antonio Lauro and Manuel Ponce. As well, he began listening intently to the works of Villa-Lobos, who could be called the ‘Bach of Brazil.’

These styles of music were mostly composed originally for the guitar, while even orchestral works as well as piano pieces were arranged for the guitar, all of them made up the core repertory for classical guitar. “When these types of music are played with improvisation, they organically link with jazz, which enables the creation of a new kind of music, does it not?” wonders Ito.

Fortunately, there are many of Latin guitarists in New York, who all exchange ideas with each other. The construction and modes of expression in these styles of playing and phrasing can be closely studied. Moreover, the beautiful melodies and active rhythms can be further brought to life within the context of the jazz groove.

One very significant influence on Shinobu Ito has been that of Baden Powell (1937 – 2000), the Brazilian-born guitar genius who developed the primitive percussive style of guitar known as Afro Samba and used it for jazz improvisation.

It was this inspiration that led Ito to release the album ‘A Tribute to Baden Powell and Antonio Lauro’ in 2002. While Ito was criticized for nylon strings on a Spanish guitar performance, it marked his decision to take a new direction.

While Ito is known as a jazz guitarist who plays with a pick, in this new direction he plays only with his fingers, as do classical guitar players. Moreover, he improvises on these tunes, effectively fusing classical guitar and jazz.

In a Harlem jazz club, Ito played blues on a full-size archtop guitar, and was said to create the exact same groove that first-rate American blues musicians would. However, when he played hard bop, he was admired for being top level in Japan. However, Ito would not settle for that, and without sticking strictly to jazz, he sought out to broaden his sense of expression on the guitar.

Classical guitar genius Kazuhito Yamashita is also someone of interest to Ito. From this influence he got to know a guitar solo CD called Bolero, containing famous orchestral composition by Ravel, played by Larry Coryell, considered a young revolutionary for his fusion of rock and jazz in the 60s. Finding Yamashita interesting as a classical guitarist, Coryell engendered a new era, and this spirit of adventure overlapped with the bold decision taken by Ito to improvise on classical guitar pieces.

When Executive Producer Yoichi Nakao first heard of Ito’s idea to make an album of classical repertoire rendered with improvisation, he was quickly reminded of what Larry Coryell approached many years ago.

As a jazz guitarist who dares create a new approach, Ito has released a second Spanish-influenced guitar album that truly captures this stance of adventure. The album is titled Musica Para Enamorados – Ramonada, and it fully captures this feeling by exhibiting a distinctly Spanish sound.

Shinobu Ito is currently an instructor in the Jazz Division of the Senzoku College of Music in Tokyo, and moves between Tokyo and New York to attend to various projects. When tenor sax player Seiichi Nakamura visited New York in 2005, he recorded an intimate duo album with Ito called Serenata. Born in 1951, Shinobu Ito is a mature musician who still is willing to take on a challenge and explore new directions.

The planning, arrangements, rehearsal and recording of this new project have taken two years. During that time, Ito has enjoyed the support of Toru Yamauchi as co-performer.

The album leads off in a light rhythm with "Carnival", composed by Liona Boyd, who made her debut in the 1970s as a female classical guitarist.

"La Fiesta" is an original Spanish-style composition by pianist Chick Corea, and made its debut in the best-selling album 'Return To Forever'. It features the appealing sound of beautiful string reverberations.

"Oblivion" is a beautiful and passionate tune composed by Astor Piazzolla, Argentine-born genius of the bandoneon. Here, Ito has rendered it delicately, note for note, in a truly melodic rendition.

Antonio Lauro's three most representative compositions, "Vals Criolo," "Andreina" and ”Carora" were solo performances in Ito’s previous album, but after creating new arrangements for them, they create for the listener a feeling that better represents the world of Shinobu Ito. "Andante" follows the motif of the second movement of the Guitar Concerto composed by Villa-Lobos in that Preludes No.1 to 5 from the 12 Etudes are included, creating both fantasy and rhapsody, allowing the imagination to soar freely.

The "Danse Espanole No.5" from Granados has become part of the standard repertory for classical guitarists ever since the famous performance by Andrés Segovia. However, in recordings of it by Laurindo Almeida and Charlie Byrd, some writers may feel they are taking some kind of revenge since the foot rhythm differs from that of the standard classical guitarist, but these are still good performances. They reflect a touch of naïve attitude expressed with a bit of humor.

Manuel de Falla has many compositions that have been arranged for guitar in a very Spanish vein. This "Danse Espagnole" is a very swinging performance that I strongly feel can be approached by a jazz guitarist.

"Spain", also by Chick Corea is, of course, an essential number for a guitar duo to perform. Here, Shinobu Ito takes a restrained approach to the tempo to make it more traditional like compositions by Granados and Albéniz. This results in a fresh new appeal.

(Based on an essay by Tetsuya Yanagisawa)
- Tetsuya Yanagisawa

<PJL/JAZZBANK MTCJ-1049> Dec, 2002
New CD by Shinobu Ito, Guitarist-composer, who lives and resume activities in New York City and has spent one year to complete this project finally came out here.
This music is a tribute to a guitarist who was born in Brazil and one of the most respected guitarists in South America, Barden Powell, and a composer Antonio Lauro who was born in Venezuela who also left us so many compositions for guitar.
Barden Powell was a genius who has left many compositions for us with Vinicious de Moraes who is a lyricist of Brazil and created his own unique guitar style called Afro-Samba. Having distinctive style from so called Bossa Nova guitar, his energies, primitive and improvisational factors, also his spell binding guitar style brought him a fame in the field of jazz scene at first, therefore, it's hard to find any person who don't appreciate his accomplishment in this world these days.
In my opinion, I recognize him to be a virtuoso who should be described as one of the" Best five guitarists at all the time" along with jazz's Charlie Christian, Django Reinhalt, Classic's Andres Segovia, rock's Jimi Hendricks among with all genre's historical guitarists. Although he has past away at his age 63 unfortunately, It's still a fresh memory for us which he visited to Japan 3 years prier to his death and he recorded Afro-fantasia suite (Paddle Wheel) with his two sons, guitarist Lewis Marcel Powell, pianist Philippe Powell. We feel strong relationship with him because of his last recording has been done here in Japan.
Bone in Venezuela in 1917, Antonio Lauro was a modern classical guitar composer and especially his four Vales Venezolanos and many other south American flavored compositions has been introduced by many guitarists especially by his best mentor Alirio Diaz and has become very important repertories for the programs at classical guitar concerts.
In addition of compositions by Barden Powell and Antonio Lauro which Shinobu Ito has been loving to play for all the time, This CD include a song called Estrellita by Manuel Ponce who was born in Mexico also has left us many important compositions for Classical guitar and Serenata Espanola which is the one of most famous composition by a modern Spanish composer Joaquin Malatz and arranged for guitar by Francisco Tarrega who was a pioneer of modern guitar, and a song called Por Causa de Voce which is the one of Barden Powell's best playing in his album called Solitude composed by Antonio Carlos Jobim who was a good friend of Barden Powel.
We also have to remark here that Shinobu Ito included five original compositions in this CD as homage to Barden Powell and Antonio Lauro. In addition, though Prologue's solo has a flavor of Antonio Lauro, the other compositions sound so- called jazz fusion touch by using sequencer. It could be said that these compositions are very interesting to listen as a result of which are influenced by them from a jazz point of view.
Shinobu Ito who has completed this CD titled < A tribute to Barden Powell and Antonio Lauro> as world premier, was born in Jan28, 1951 at Kanagawa, Japan.
He took lessons from his father at age12 and he has been studying music since then to be a musician. He started to learn jazz guitar when he listened Wes Montgomery during his high school days, he also took lessens from a respected guitar teacher Ikuo Shiozaki, being a member of Tokai University Jazz Circle. America's cultures and atmosphere he sensed while he was staying in Los Angeles in 1975 made him decided to immigrate to the States.
He once went back to Japan then and started work for a vocalist Yoshiko Kimura and resumed activities with the top class musicians like Seiichi Nakamura, Shigeharu Mukai, Hidefumi Toki and Takao Uematsu and some others.
His CD "One Life To live" (JAZZBANK) released in 2001 playing with these long time fellow musicians became a topic then. He resume activities in New York Area now.
Tetsuya Yanagisawa
- Tetsuya Yanagisawa


I have 5 of my own CDs.
These Cds are not from like self-made CD Babys. All came out from decent recording companies with decent contract.

Please check my Discography with reviews at

JAZZBANK / MTCJ-1095 (2006)

CD: SERENATA Duo with Seiichi Nakamura
JAZZBANK / MTCJ-1084 (2005)

JAZZBANK / MTCJ-1049 (2002)

JAZZBANK / MTCJ-1022 (2001)

CD: GOD SON by Eric Wyatt.
KING RECORDS / KICJ-313?@?i1997?j

CROWN RECORDS / PAS 1009 (1991)

Album: P.S. I LOVE YOU
by Tsuyoshi Yamamoto




Jazz guitarist and composer Shinobu Ito started his professional career while he was a college student.
During a six-month stay in L.A. , Shinobu met Toshiko Akiyoshi, who introduced him to many musicians
and strongly urged him to hone his craft in New York on his next visit to the United States.

Back in Japan that same year, Shinobu resumed performances with many top class Japanese musicians as well as
Tete Montreux, Bill Reichenbach, Ronnie Foster, Stanley Banks and others.
Also he was then chosen as one of the top 20 popular guitarists in Japan, by Swing Journal magazine.

In keeping with his plan, Shinobu returned to the United States and settled in New York City.
He became a member of a 10-piece band directed by Reggie Workman.
He also played with Teruo Nakamura & his Rising Sun Band and on occasion formed his own group to play at
Blue Note, 55 Bar, the Angry Squire, Pat?fs, and other popular venues in the city?fs jazz scene.

He has performed or recorded with musicians including Valery Ponomarev, Lonnie Plaxico, Eddie Henderson, Lonnie Smith, Jesse Davis,
Kenny Davis, Jeff Williams, Mike Formanek, Vincent Herring and Judy Niemack.

Shinobu performed at the Montreal Jazz Festival 2002 with renowned guitarist Ryo Kawasaki.

During the years 2005 & 2006, Shinobu spent most of his time as a jazz instructor at Senzoku Gakuen College of Music in Japan.
He returned to New York in January 2007, where he continues to perform as a leader of his own group Costa del Sol.

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