They are led by 22-year-old jazz pianist Ai Kuwabara with Yusuke Morita on bass guitar and Shintaro Imamura on drums. Kuwabara has gotten a lot of press in Japan because of her age and her proven skill at the piano, having won gold medals at the All-Japan Yamaha Electone Concours. She self-released her first album from here to there in May 2012 and it was later picked up by EWE Records for re-release the following November. The band's latest album THE SIXTH SENSE (released in April 2013) was inspired by psychology and cognitive science and was called a “superbly crafted album” by Sean Smith of The Japan Times.
JFLA chose to bring this particular group to the U.S. to promote a cultural and musical exchange between nations by showcasing the contemporary jazz scene thriving in Japan. Indeed, in September the trio played its biggest show to date at the massive Tokyo Jazz Festival which featured Tony Bennett as headliner. Kuwabara herself is considered to be a part of a new wave of female jazz pianists in Japan, putting her among the ranks of musicians like Hiromi Uehara and Manami Morita.
The tour will come to Berkeley, Los Angeles, Denver, and Anchorage. More information can be found at JFLA's event website. Three of the four concerts are free, with the Los Angeles concert costing $5.