What's Hot With Jazz Guitar: Hideaki Tokunaga

by Doc Dosco

This week we feature guitarist Hideaki Tokunaga.

I caught Hideaki Tokunaga some time ago at the Baked Potato jazz
club here in LA playing with Tony DoRosario and John Pisano.
I though it worthwhile to to feature him again.

Hideaki Tokunaga has a captivating style and a sweet, warm tone, playing
wonderfully fluid melody lines using his thumb instead of a pick.
Overall I was stuck by the expressive nature of his playing and enjoyed
listening to him immensely. Following is some history on Hideaki...

From the online bio:

Born in Osaka Japan, the guitarist, Hideaki Tokunaga came to the United
States in 1985 and settled in New York, playing with an organization
called Music Under New York (MUNY), which arranged for musicians to play
in subways. In 1990 he moved to Southern California and started
attending Calfornia Institute of the Arts through the Charlie Mingus
Scholarship Program. In 1998 he graduated from CalArts with his Master's

During his school years the 18th Annual Down Beat Magazine Student Music
Awards gave one of three Best USA Jazz Instrumental Soloist-College
Awards to Hideaki Tokunaga. "The Awards," explains CalArts Jazz Program
director, pianist David Roitstein, "bring a lot of competition. Students
in high schools, colleges and universities all over the world submit
their work and pieces are judged by internationally known musicians who
know what they are listening to. There is a high level of competition
and winning an award is a big honor."

After receiving this award, Tokunaga contracted with Moo/MIDI Records.
His debut cd "The Wind Told Me" was released in 1997 and the second
album "Midnight Rainbow" was released in 1998. On "Midnight Rainbow" the
core band features the Hammond B3 playing of Greg Kustin and the drums
of legendary jazz drummer Billy Higgins. This trio is augmented by a
string quartet as they swing through a program of Hideaki's own music
and eclectic jazz standards.

Jazz Program founder, bassist Charlie Haden said " Some people think
that only musicians who grew up in this country can play jazz. I totally
disagree with it. Listen to how Django Reinhardt used to improvise on
his guitar. He really digged jazz theory. And Hideaki is another
example, if I close my eyes to listen to how he plays bebop, I would
think he was from Brooklyn." As a matter fact, he lived in Brooklyn when
he met his wife, and followed her to Los Angeles.

His warm, beautiful, solid and grooving guitar sound has been capturing
the hearts of every Jazz fan. If you need more information about Hideaki
Tokunaga, please call toll free 1-888-667-4237 (Moo Records) or email
hideaki hide@japaneseguitarist.com.

Hideaki Tokunaga's website:


Doc Dosco is a jazz guitarist, composer and audio consultant living in
Los Angeles, CA. His website is located at http://www.docdosco.com,
where you can find more information on the 'What's Hot in Jazz Guitar'
columns, audio clips of Doc's playing, and many additional features. Doc
plays Heritage guitars and endorses the new Pignose Valve Tube
-- great for jazz (and anything else!)

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