Japanese guitarist and composer Ryo Kawasaki has passed away, it was confirmed today. The influential musician, known for popularising the jazz fusion genre and for his role in developing the guitar-synthesizer with Roland and Korg, was 73 years old.
Kawasaki first began performing with jazz ensembles as a teenager, and was already building amplifiers and primitive synthesizers before he was even old enough to attend university. Upon moving to New York in 1973 he enjoyed a successful career as a jazz musician, before a series of performances at planetariums in the early ‘80s with his newly-created guitar-synthesizer confirmed his innovative vision as a solo artist.
He became a proficient computer programmer in the mid-80s, writing innovative music programs such as ‘Kawasaki Synthesizer’ for the Commodore 64 home computer. Shortly after the release of his all-synth album ‘Images’ in 1987 he released a string of popular dance singles that incorporated ambient music and acid house. In the early 2000s he moved to Estonia, returning his focus to the jazz fusion music he had popularised several decades prior.
He continued to release records well into the 21st century, with his most recent release ‘Giant Steps’ arriving in 2019.
RIP Ryo Kawasaki.