‘Family oriented, Energetic, Determined’ | Interview with Yusuke Chigita

Tokyo based bassist Yusuke Chigita teams up with guitarist May Inoue and drummer Yuto Maseki for their album titled FAMILY DIARY. A 46 minutes journey into the mesmerizing world of mellow jazz, ideal for kicking back.

Describe your sound in 3 words

Family oriented, Energetic, Determined

Tell us a few things about your album Family Diary. What is the main idea behind it?

The album “Family Diary” is inspired by life with my family.  Inspired by my days spent with family… such as my child’s humming, attending the birth of my children and a sad story of a bird’s family that happened in front of me and my kids when we went to the park, I composed those songs. Malu, Ten are my children’s names and some songs are dedicated to them. 

What made you gravitate towards Jazz?

I used to play electric bass in EMO and POP PUNK bands when I was in high school. Then I had the opportunity to play wood bass for the first time after I entered university.  I intuitively felt that pizzicato this instrument would release my energy more wildly! Since wood bass is active in jazz, I was attracted to jazz in order to hear the sound of wood bass.

Favorite Bass player?

Charlie Haden, Jimmy Garrison, Wilbur Ware, Larry Gales, Thomas Morgan, Christopher Thomas… I like bassists who have an individual unique tone that you can tell who they are just by listening to their sound. Kiyoshi Kitagawa and Yasushi Nakamura, who are active in the world as Japanese bassists, are also my heroes and have had a great influence on my musical life.

How do you relate to the music scene of Tokyo?

For 10 years in Tokyo, I have been playing straight-ahead jazz and improvisation mainly as a sideman in jazz bands. I mainly play live, gigs and also do recording work. There are many great jazz clubs and bars in Tokyo, and I play at those kinds of venues.

Which city do you think is the world capital of Jazz? 

I believe New York is the world capital of Jazz. However, Recently, young and up and coming Japanese jazz musicians are performing great music which can be heard only in Tokyo.

Jazz music as a genre has been accused as music for snobs. Is jazz music elitist?

That may be true, maybe, Jazz has rooted in this kind of feeling. You may feel closed or uncomfortable, or maybe stiff if you are new to Jazz music. But it’s also true that Jazz might just broaden your world. You know what, I, myself, realized that I had been living in such a small world by releasing my album “Family Diary” globally. ( I am glad I could communicate with overseas people thorough my album. ) 

To be honest, sometimes I can’t understand the incredibly complex harmonies or those types of rhythms in jazz. All I want from jazz is a beautiful acoustic tone and a danceable rhythm, that’s it. I like simple and beautiful music.

You have shared the stage with top jazz players.  Can you share something funny that happened during one of your gigs?

Well, Though this is not the story from my gigs,  this is my wife’s story …
My wife is a jazz pianist. Even after a while since moving to Tokyo, we couldn’t make a living with music only. So we had a part-time job at that time.

One day, my wife was posting her gigs schedule on the website, and at the same time she was looking at Jamie Cullum’s website. I asked her “why are you watching it?”.  She said, “I don’t know who it is, but…It was decided all of a sudden for me to perform with him.. “.  You know, she didn’t understand how great a musician she could play with! Realizing the seriousness of the matter, she practiced desperately until the day of the concert. A few days later, finally she played with the amazing Jamie Cullum for two days.  The day after grabbing this TOKYO dream, she needed to wake up early for a part-time job at the supermarket. When she was cutting pineapples at the supermarket, she felt like she woke up from her dream. 

And what would be your dream performance venue?

A while ago,  it was my dream as a bassist to be hired by a legendary musician and perform at Village Vanguard in NY. However,  Covid19 pandemic and parenting situation changed my life dramatically. It caused me to start to ask myself what I really want to do. 

My dream performance venue is …a venue where you can easily listen to my music by setting up a stage in the middle of a large space such as an outdoor park or warehouse. I want a variety of audiences, from children to the elderly, to surround the stage,  where they can enjoy our music, sandwiches and maybe coffee in a relaxed mood. ( Unfortunately, it is not easy to create such a venue/stage in Tokyo due to noise and housing problems. ) 

Well, of course I would like everyone to listen to my music no matter where they are living. I am very interested in what kind of impressions people have from all over the world about my music.


What is your favorite dish to make or eat?

I was born and raised in a city called Osaka, so My specialty dish is Okonomiyaki, which is the soul food in Osaka! ( Okonomiyaki is a Japanese-style pancake made from egg, flour and water with meat and vegetable toppings.  Japanese pizza-like dish. ) It’s simple to make, but also deep and has rich flavors. The taste is really great! If you have a chance to come to Japan, please try Okonomiyaki. 

Thank you!

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