Yuma Uesaka is a saxophonist, clarinetist, and composer known his work in jazz and the avant-garde. Since his arrival to New York City in 2014, Yuma quickly built a reputation for his improvisational sensibilities and his powerful sound. An alumnus of Banff Jazz and Creative Music Workshop, Yuma worked and studied with cutting edge luminaries such as Vijay Iyer, Tyshawn Sorey, Nicole Mitchell, and Amir ElSaffar.
Yuma released his debut EP, Spear and Shield, in 2015 with Ian Finkelstein on piano, Ben Rolston on bass, and Julian Allen on drums. Dave Sumner (Bird is the Worm) praises the album as a “compelling debut from saxophonist Uesaka, who susses out some powerful moments from his gentle lyricism.” He currently co-leads Open Tabs, a collaborative quintet along with Shawn Lovato and Santiago Leibson, as well as Ocelot, a collaborative trio consisting of Colin Hinton and Cat Toren.
He has performed at venues such as The Jazz Gallery, Roulette, Cornelia St Cafe, Zinc Bar, and Shapeshifter Lab in NYC, Cliff Bell’s in Detroit, as well as international festivals such as Detroit Jazz Festival, Lima ICPNA Jazz Festival (Peru), Otsu Jazz Festival (Japan), and Shanghai Jiao Tong University Festival (China).
As a sideman, Yuma has performed and/or recorded with Jeff Lederer and The Brooklyn Blowhards; Lex Korten’s Make/Believe; Colin Hinton’s Facehugger; Lesley Mok’s Living Collection, Peter Nelson’s Ash, Dust, and Chalkboard Cinema; Ken Ychicawa’s Thruworld; Pravin Thompson’s A Thoughtful Collapse. Through these projects, he had the pleasure of working with Anna Webber, Jeff Lederer, and Jorge Roeder.
Born in London, Yuma spent his early childhood in Nagoya, Japan. He moved to West Bloomfield, Michigan at the age of 8 and started playing the saxophone at the age of 10. He holds two bachelor’s degrees from University of Michigan, where he majored in Jazz Studies and Computer Science Engineering. He studied with Geri Allen, Robert Hurst, Andrew Bishop, and Erik Santos.
Yuma is a member of Polyfold Musical Arts Collective. Polyfold’s focus is to support the creation, presentation, and ongoing development of creative music, and to foster artistic expression through education and outreach.