British blues-rock guitarist Saiichi Sugiyama and his band are touring the UK in Spring 2017 ahead of their new album release later in the year.
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 core of the group is Mune Sugiyama (producer/MD/drums), Saiichi Sugiyama (guitar/vocals/composer), Ben Reed (bass guitar) and Rietta Austin (lead vocals).
When playing live, the group are augmented by touring musicians including Stuart Dixon (rhythm guitar), Monica George/Katrin Yr (lead vocals), Sam Grimley (keyboards) and Wez Johnson (drums). The former members Lizzie Hibbert (lead vocals) and Dave Munch Moore (keys) also record with the group in studio.
The group has been spending the past months working on their new studio album in various recording studios, a follow up to the studio live album “the Smokehouse Sessions” from 2014.
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.
It is apparent that Saiichi’s Les Paul tone is endowed with the passion and flair of British Blues groups such as Blues Breakers, Cream and Free. His songwriting is another class act that draws from a wider range of influences of CSN&Y, Ann Peebles, Aretha, Motown Funk Brothers, Dave Mason, Carole King, Debussy, Chuck Berry, Herbie Hancock, George Harrison and more. It is this cross pollination of pre-1976 music that makes the Group’s musical core.
Giving a perfect foil to his father’s music is the production of Mune Sugiyama, a latter day Renaissance polymath of a painter, film maker, physicist, orchestral arranger, music producer and groove drummer all in one, playing the role of the Creative Director of the band.
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.
The life and soul of the band whose vivacious character belies the super singing brain that is sharper than a scalpel that she is, Saiichi gave up singing his own songs when Rietta told him that she believed in his songs. Simply, Rietta is music.
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 so new and yet so familiar, and above all, have a heart, like coming home to a place that you have never been before.
So, welcome. Come and meet Saiichi Sugiyama Band.