A player with remarkable technical skill and energy, Akira Jimbo has in recent years become the first Japanese drum set artist to achieve worldwide acclaim on the clinic circuit. His amazing ambidexterity and musical command of both acoustic and electronic sounds always brings the house down.
Akira came to fame with the four-piece Japanese jazz-fusion band Casiopea. Casiopea was formed in 1979 by guitarist Issei Noro, keyboardist Minoru Mukaiya, bassist Tetsuo Sakurai and drummer Takashi Sasaki. The band released its first album in May of 1979, a high-energy fusion of jazz and funk augmented by a horn section consisting of top American stars Michael and Randy Brecker and David Sanborn. Akira took over the drum chair in 1980, appearing on the band’s third album, Thunder Live, the first of several live albums. Akira stayed until the end of the decade, during which time the band toured the world three times, appearing in Europe for the first time in 1983.
Akira’s achievements are all the more remarkable since he did not start to play drums until he was 17, inspired by hearing Steve Gadd. He studied at Keio University in Tokyo and played big band drums. With Casiopea he was able to develop both his drumming and his compositional talents on over a dozen albums. Yet in 1989 Akira, and his equally brilliant bassist partner Tetsuo Sakurai, left the band following several years of musical differences. Then from 1996 Akira returned to Casiopea, this time as a part-time member, recording more albums and again contributing some of the compositions.
On first leaving Casiopea in 1989 Akira formed the band Jimsaku. He has since played with Keiko Matsui, Shambara and many others. Over the years he’s released many solo albums, including Cotton (1986), Palette (1991), Slow Boat (1992), and Lime Pie (1994). He’s also to date released four instructional videos entitled Metamorphosis (1992), Pulse (1995), Independence (1998) and Evolution (1999).
Today his solo performances are legendary. Unlike many other clinicians who play along to sequenced backing tracks, Akira is quite capable of playing both acoustic kit and electronic kit simultaneously in real time to create amazing, complete pieces of music. Yet although he revels in complexity he is also very aware of the need to groove, to create a good feel, just like his first hero Steve Gadd.