Ryuz is a group which explores music transcending musical borders, and consists of three exciting Japanese musicians: Shigeri Kitsu, Kazuki Kunihiro, and Nobuto Yamanaka.
Shigeri Kistu is known for her original style of folk singing while accompanying herself on folk drum. Her passion toward disseminating folk songs as Japanese soul music has moved audiences not only in Japan but also in many countries of the world. Her powerful singing and high level drumming skills combined with a rich musical sensibility have allowed her to collaborate with many big-name musicians in the Japanese Western music scene.
Composer, vocalist, and guitarist, Kazuki Kunihiro is celebrated for his rich cross-genre and highly imaginative musicality, as well as strong stage presence. He is responsible for all original compositions of the group, which gives the group an exceptional appeal. Outside of Ryuz, Kunihiro also displays an unfailing compositional ability in his music for many theatre pieces, including international collaborative works and a new kabuki piece.
Superb tsugaru-shamisen (traditional string instrument) player, Nobuto Yamanaka has received considerable attention for his brilliant playing techniques. He has won various major tsugaru-shamisen competitions, including the Grand Prize in utazuke section in 2011 and 2013. Utazuke is a characteristic tsugaru-shamisen technique, in which players accompany singers, using different techniques and music motifs in an improvisational way, and requires high level playing techniques and a deep knowledge about folk singing.
The repertoire of the group consists of Japanese folk music in an original Ryuz style, as well as new compositions by Kunihiro.
The group made its debut under the name of Hidden Dragon in Uzbekistan in August 2011, when they participated in the
International Sharq Taronalari Music Festival in
Samarkand and received the Special Award for its receiving the biggest support from the audience. The group also performed in Tashkent in Uzbekistan and Ashkhabad in Turkmenistan.
The group changed its name from Hidden Dragon to Ryuz in July 2013.
In September 2013, the group performed in Thailand in both Bangkok and Phitsanulok, where they received critical acclaim.
In June 2014, the group was invited to the Rainforest World Music Festival in Kuching, Malaysia, and was highly acclaimed. The group performed in Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu, too.
Shigeri Kitsu website is here
Since childhood, Kitsu has studied minyo (Japanese folk music) singing,
minyo drumming, and shamisen (traditional three-stringed instrument). Her talent was recognized early, which led her to numerous performances on TV, radio and stage. She
established her original style of sining while accompanying herself on folk drum. Her attitude toward disseminating minyo as Japanese soul music with her powerful singing has moved
audience not only in Japan but also in many countries of the world.
Her powerful singing and high level drumming skills combined with a rich sensibility have allowed her to collaborate with many big-name musicians in the Japanese Western music scene including Haruomi Hosono (a former member of Yellow Magic Orchestra), jazz saxophonist Akira Sakata, jazz guitarist Kazumi Watanabe, etc.
Kitsu has released her solo CD, Japanese Voice (2007). She has also released CDs with Katsuaki Sawada, the grand master of tsugaru-shamisen: Tsuru to Kame (Crane and Tortoise) (2002), Ai no Kaze (Wind from the North) (2003), and Shakkitose (Shape Up!) (2007).
Composer, vocalist, and guitarist, Kunihiro is highly celebrated with his rich cross-genre and higly imaginative musicality, as well as strong stage presence.
Performing his own compositions in solo performances and in his band Data, Kunihiro also displays an unfailing compositional ability in his music for theatre and film, and drew much attention through works such as: Performing Women: 3 Reinterpretations from Greek Tragedy (a collaborative theatre work between performers of India, Iran, Uzbekistan and Japan, produced by the Japan Foundation in 2007) and the grand kabuki, Sakura Giminden (2010) directed by the contemporary theatre director, Kazuyoshi Kushida (2010), anime film many go round (special award in the 2012 London International Animation Festival), Sound Migration – a collaborative music project between musicians from Turkey and Japan (2011-2011).
Nobuto Yamanaka website
Began studying tsugaru-shamisen (traditional string instrument of northern Japan) at age 13. After graduating from junior high school, Yamanaka went to Hirosaki City, Aomori Prefecture in northern Japan, the origin place of tsugaru-shamisen, and studied for four years under the late Chisato Yamada, one of the great masters. While in Hirosaki, he won various major tsugaru-shamisen competitions, and was given the title of master of the Yamada school.
After returning to his homeland near Tokyo, he joined the Takio Band, headed by Takio Ito, a famous minyo singer known for his new approach to minyo, and performed in and out of Japan for 16 years.
Yamanaka is now an active solo performer, and has attracted considerable attention for his brilliant playing techniques and superb musicality.
Yamanaka won the Grand Prize in utazuke section of the most prestigious tsugaru-shamisen competition in 2011 and 2013. Utazuke is a characteristic tsugaru-shamisen technique, in which players accompany singers, using different techniques and music motifs in an improvisational way, and requires high level playing techniques and a deep knowledge about minyo singing. Having received this award, Yamanaka established his position as an authentic tsugaru-shamisen player.
He is also a lecturer at Senzoku Gakuen College of Music in Tokyo.