Rock and blues guitarist and songwriter Saiichi Sugiyama and his band are touring the UK in Autumn 2017 ahead of their new album release in 2018.
Saiichi Sugiyama Band is a group of musicians hailing from Surrey/London that harks back to the halcyon days of rock and soul, 1965-1974, brought together in 2010 by the guitarist/composer Saiichi [pronounced: “sigh-eee-chee”], who has a career spanning 25 years as a solo artist in the British blues scene.
The current lineup of the group is Saiichi Sugiyama (guitar/vocals/composer), Mune Sugiyama (drums), Ben Reed (bass guitar), Monica George (lead vocals) and Sam Grimley (keyboards).
Saiichi’s Les Paul tone captures the passion and flair of British Blues groups such as Blues Breakers, Cream and Free. His songwriting, which earned him collaborations wtih Andy Fraser, the bassist and composer of Free, and Pete Brown, the Cream lyricist, is an epitomy of cross pollination of pre-1976 music. His songs evoke the hits of 60s and 70s when rock music led the world, blues guitar was in the pop chart and all you needed was love.
Giving a perfect foil to his father’s music is the production of Mune Sugiyama, a polymath of a painter, film maker, physicist, music producer, arranger and drummer, playing the role of the Creative Director of the band. It is at times not easy for Mune to work with his own father, but it is his belief in Saiichi’s songs that compels him to give the music his vision.
The quiet mysterious figure towering in the background and a walking encyclopedia of music, Ben Reed’s gigantic musical prowess is well-hidden under his boyish demeanor and quintessentially British eccentricity, but listen carefully and he is as much a bass monster as John Entwhistle. Ben has a seniority in the band having played with Saiichi for a dozen of years. Ben has recently been recording and touring with Frank Ocean.
Bringing to Saiichi’s songs and Mune’s production authoritative soulfulness is the lead vocals of Monica George, who has been with London Community Gospel Choir. Her warm spiritual personality and powerful raspy sultry vocal delivery gives fire to the band’s music. Monica has worked in studio and on stage with acts such as Nile Rodgers, Pharrel Williams and Madonna.
The articulate and deeply musical piano and spritual driving Hammond playing by Sam Grimley completes the music of the band. Being a respected singer-songwriter, a great singer and a trained all-around musician, Sam adds to Saiichi and Mune’s music a depth, sparkle and excitement. Sam toured with Sir Tom Jones OBE for four years.
Together, they recorded an album full of songs which give a new lease of life to the familiar elements of the music’s golden years and transform them into songs that are at the same time new and yet familiar, and above all, have a heart, a little like coming home to a place that you have never been before.
So, welcome. Come and meet Saiichi Sugiyama Band.
MELTING AWAY (featuring Andy Fraser) – single
The new album will include a track entitled “Melting Away”, written by Saiichi and featuring the late bass hero Andy Fraser, ex-Free and composer of the 1970 smash single, “All Right Now.”
The initial inspiration for “Melting Away” came to Saiichi while on a trip to his native Japan. To Saiichi the melody was reminiscent of Free guitarist Paul Kossoff, who died in 1976. Creating a demo when he returned home to the UK, Saiichi came up with bass parts that brought Free bassman Andy Fraser to mind.
In 2014, Saiichi met Andy Fraser and they agreed to work together, with the idea that Fraser would produce the final album. Fraser loved ‘Melting Away’ and put his own spin on it with his signature bass line, synthesiser and vocals. Sadly, Andy Fraser died on 16 March 2015, which meant that ‘Melting Away’ become one of his last recordings. Today, ‘Melting Away’ lives on as a powerful, poignant track proving that Andy Fraser’s legacy is enduring.