Presented in collaboration with the CU Jazz Festival, the Chicago-based Mai Sugimoto will be leading an improvising quartet, playing alto saxophone and flute, with Fred Jackson Jr. on alto saxophone and soprano saxophone; Ethan Philion on bass; and Isaiah Spencer on drums.
This ensemble was featured in the 2022 Chicago Jazz Fest on September 1 at Chicago Cultural Center before traveling to Krannert Art Museum for Sudden Sound. Arriving ahead of the ensemble, Mai Sugimoto will lead a free Improvisers Exchange workshop at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts on Friday, October 28, 3-5 pm. More about Improvisers Exchange Ensemble.
Mai Sugimoto is a saxophonist, composer, and active member of Chicago’s jazz and improvisational music scene. “A compelling performer” with “dry-champagne tone and lyrical lines” (Chicago Tribune), Sugimoto draws inspiration from her upbringing in Japan and her roots in jazz to compose and perform from her unique multicultural experience. Born/Raised, her debut album (Asian Improv Records, 2018), explores this cultural and musical binary, juxtaposing, among others, a jazz rendition of a Japanese children’s song alongside compositions inspired by the American jazz idiom. Sugimoto is also a core member of the quartet Hanami, whose two albums similarly mix Japanese culture into creative music. Mai has performed three times at the Chicago Jazz Festival: in 2015 with Hanami, in 2019 as a leader, and in 2018 with renowned bassist Tatsu Aoki, with whom she frequently plays, including appearances in his Fred Anderson Legacy Band. Her first solo album, monologue (Asian Improv Records) was released in March of 2021.