Improvised Music from Japan / Ryoji Hojito


pianist and composer

Ryoji Hojito was born in Tochigi prefecture, about 100 kilometers north of Tokyo, on February 27, 1959. Since 1974 he has lived in Sapporo in Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japans four main islands.

In 1986 Hojito started performing both as a solo artist and with his own band, playing a unique style of music that cannot be classified in any genre. A major turning point came in March 1990, in Sapporo, when he first played with turntable and guitar player Yoshihide Otomo. In terms of musical expression, Otomo had a powerful impact on Hojito, who at that time began to seriously consider expanding his range of expression through the piano.

Since then he has performed with many leading musicians, including such Japanese artists as Otomo, Kazutoki Umezu (reeds), Junji Hirose (sax), Koichi Makigami (vocal), Takashi Kazamaki (percussion), Kazuhisa Uchihashi (guitar); and such non-Japanese artists as David Moss (percussion), Nicolas Collins (electronics), Kalle Laar (guitar), Carl Stone (computer), Samm Bennett (percussion), Jon Rose (violin) and Kang Tae Hwan (alto sax). By connecting these experiences with his unique musical taste and creativity, Hojito has succeeded in developing a very original piano style. He incorporates various objects (which he calls small instruments) into the piano itself in order to create a colorful sound and a style that superbly intertwines freeform playing and beautiful phrasing--two elements which would normally be expected to contradict each other.

In 1993, Hojito had his first opportunity to play outside Japan when he was invited to play solo in Russia. In May he had a successful concert in Moscow called On the Way to Siberia; and in June he played at International Jazz Week, Novosibirsk-100, in Novosibirsk. (Both performances were recorded, and released on a CD entitled A Man from the East). In September and October of the following year he visited Russia again, playing at The Jazz Days-94, a new jazz festival in Arkhangelsk, and giving concerts in Moscow, Vologda, Cherepovets, and Kiev (Ukraine).

While his main focus is on live performance, Hojito made his first studio recording (not yet released) in Tokyo in May of 1995. Recently he has also been active in helping young musicians, as a director of the Sapporo version of the Now Music Workshop, which was launched in Kobe by Kazuhisa Uchihashi in order to give amateur musicians opportunities to perform.

Last updated: July 6, 1997