Casiopea

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This article is about the Japanese fusion band. For other uses, see Cassiopeia (disambiguation).
Casiopea
Origin 1976
Genres Jazz fusion
Years active 1976–2006, 2012-Currently Active
Associated acts Jimsaku, Ottottrio, T-Square
Website http://www.casiopea.co.jp/
Members Issei Noro
Yoshihiro Naruse
Kiyomi Otaka
Akira Jimbo (Support)
Past members Tetsuo Sakurai
Takashi Sasaki
Masaaki Hiyama
Noriaki Kumagai
Hidehiko Koike
Minoru Mukaiya

Casiopea (カシオペア Kashiopea?), Japanese transcription of the name of the constellation Cassiopeia, is a Japanese jazz fusion band that was formed in 1976 by guitarist Issei Noro, bassist Tetsuo Sakurai and keyboardist Hidehiko Koike. In 1977, keyboardist Minoru Mukaiya and drummer Takashi Sasaki joined the group, leaving Hidehiko out of Casiopea. The group debuted with the self-titled album Casiopea in 1979, featuring Randy Brecker and Michael Brecker as guest musicians. In 1980, Takashi was replaced by Akira Jimbo. Casiopea has released over 35 albums to date in both Japan and the United States.

Some of Casiopea's most famous tracks include Asayake, Galactic Funk and Eyes of the Mind.

History[edit]

They were first signed to Alfa Records in 1979, with their first album Casiopea.

Galactic Funk first featured in their 1981 album "Crosspoint" which had around 10 different versions recorded both live and in studio.

The album "Eyes of the Mind" was released in the United States in 1981. They then released the album Mint Jams in 1982, followed by Four by Four the same year, which was a collaborative album with Lee Ritenour, Harvey Mason, Nathan East and Don Grusin (all except Don Grusin later became founding members of Fourplay). Their first overseas concert was held in the United Kingdom in 1983. The group has toured Europe, South America, Australia, and Southeast Asia.

In 1987, Casiopea signed to another Record Label, Polydor.

In 1989, Akira Jimbo and Tetsuo Sakurai left the band following several years of musical differences. They later formed their own duo-band, Jimsaku. For their replacement, Casiopea chose Yoshihiro Naruse (bass) and Masaaki Hiyama (drums). They signed to yet another record label, Pioneer.

In 1993, the group once again changed its members. Noriaki Kumagai came to replace Masaaki, and a year later, 1994, the group Signed once again to Alfa Records, but signed to Pony Canyon in the later part of the year. Then in 1997, Akira returned to Casiopea, this time as a part-time member, recording more albums and again contributing some of the compositions.

In 2000, The Group signed once again to Pioneer LDC. Only 4 years later, 2004, Pioneer LDC changed their name to Geneon Entertainment.

On August 1, 2006, Issei Noro, the group's leader, decided to freeze all activities of the band until further notice.

In 2007, Issei Noro (along with fellow Casiopea member, Akira Jimbo and several others) formed a J-Fusion group, "Inspirits". Issei Noro and Inspirits had released 2 albums since then.

In January 2009, Casiopea were involved with an album, "Tetsudou Seminar Ongakuhen", which was some music based on Minoru Mukaiya's Train Simulator Videogames. On May 27, 2009, A limited-edition box set consisting of almost all of Casiopea's albums, called "Legend of Casiopea", was released in commemoration of the group's 30th Anniversary.

On April 20, it was announced that Casiopea would return (the first concert being on May 9), with Kiyomi Otaka on Keyboards, replacing Minoru Mukaiya, who currently has his own music production team (Mukaiya Club).

Signature Songs[edit]

Asayake[edit]

In Japanese, Asayake means Sunrise. The song was first recorded for their second album, Super Flight (1979), then re-recorded on their fourth album, Eyes of the Mind in 1981, and Live, for Mint Jams in 1982. The "Mint Jams" version is a regular favorite, and is often played as an encore number or last number. With the Bridge of the Song having Long notes, the lead guitarist (Issei Noro) has a free hand, to pump his fist for the next 1 and a half-measure of the song. The intro of this song consists often of a Rhythm-Guitar Riff. The 1995 J-Pop/Rap song, "Asayake" by Yuki Mori and MC Gaku samples the Intro Guitar riff from Casiopea's "Asayake" extensively.

Domino Line[edit]

The first recording of "Domino Line" was in Cross Point from 1981. Then it was performed for "Mint Jams" in a different arrangement. The "Mint Jams" version includes a part where each instrument plays a note or chord, then is followed by another in the next 16th Note, usually in this order: Drums, guitar, bass, keyboard. On "Mint Jams", This builds up to a technical and relatively long Bass Solo, followed by a drum solo. On the "Asian Dreamer" version from 1994, this break is modified to be played in different chords, times, tempos, etc. On Tetsuo Sakurai's Arrangement from "My Dear Musiclife", the song is further modified, adding a Saxophone solo.

Galactic Funk[edit]

Like Domino Line, the first recording of "Galactic Funk" was also in "Cross Point", featuring a solo from the Guitarist and Keyboardist, then the Drummer and Bassist trading solos. Then it was recorded with Guitarist Lee Ritenour, Pianist Dave Grusin, Drummer Harvey Mason and Bassist Nathan East on 4x4 (Four by Four) in 1982, with Both Guitarists trading solos, Both Keyboardists trading Solos, and a trade between the Bassists and Drummers collectively.

Space Road[edit]

This song was first recorded on Casiopea's debut Self-Titled Album, Casiopea (1979). This song is known for its Main Theme, which is repeated 4 times but modulated to an upper Minor-3rd each time. This song is usually played at the Early-to-Middle of their Live Concerts. The Live versions often include a break in which the Guitarist, Keyboardist, and Bassist play the same solo over the Chords from the Intro.

Black Joke[edit]

Like "Space Road", this song was included in Casiopea. Intro and ending of this song includes a lot of 16th-note-triplets in impressive unison phrases, and song to symbolize their technical aspects.

Eyes of the Mind[edit]

The first version of this song was included in Make Up City as "Eyes of Mind". Then, the song was released on its own album, Eyes of the Mind.

Offshoot Bands[edit]

Casiopea vs. The Square[edit]

Although "Casiopea vs. The Square" was performed as a One-Off event in 2003, This extension of 2 different Jazz-Fusion bands goes back to 1993. Former Percussionist of The Square, Kiyohiko Senba, played on one of the songs from Casiopea's 1993 album, "Dramatic". A year later, Both Groups played an arrangement of The Beatles' "Get Back" on a Japanese Broadcast. 3 years after that, Casiopea, T-Square and Jimsaku played at Tokyo Jam 1997, with the same song. In 2003, Both Groups played (with some of the players replaced), at the event called Casiopea vs. The Square. Both Groups still have somewhat of an alliance, seeing as Casiopea's 1993 - 1997 drummer, Noriaki Kumagai and Former T-Square Bassist, Mitsuru Sutoh are both in TRIX. And T-Square Sax player Takeshi Itoh performed with Casiopea's Keyboardist, Minoru Mukaiya in 2006.

Ottottrio[edit]

In 1987, T-Square's Guitarist Masahiro Andoh, and T-Square's Drummer Hiroyuki Noritake, had met Issei Noro (guitarist of Casiopea) and current KORENOS guitarist Hirokuni Korekata, and created a Supergroup called Ottottrio, and added in keyboardists Chizuko Yoshihiro and Shotoku Sasaji, and Bassist Chiharu Mikuzuki to make the band whole. The group released 3 albums, 2 in 1988 and one called "Triptych" 10 years later. 9 years before releasing "Triptytch", Ottottrio performed on "The Super Fusion" in 1989, with all members of T-Square and Casiopea, respectively, as well as Ottottrio's aforementioned backing band.

Synchronized DNA[edit]

In 2005, Casiopea Drummer, Akira Jimbo and T-Square Drummer, Hiroyuki Noritake, had a Drum Duo called "Synchronized DNA", who also played a concert with Casiopea, released as a CD called "Signal" and a DVD called "Casiopea + Sync DNA: 5 Stars Live".

Inspirits[edit]

Issei Noro and Akira Jimbo, along with Pianist Kent Ohgiya, Keyboardist Ryo Hayashi and Bassist Yuji Yajima, are all members of Noro's Band, "Inspirits", whom Noro has performed with since 2008. As of May 8, 2011, They've released 3 Studio Albums, one Live Album and one Live DVD.

Pegasus[edit]

In 2009, A director from Tetsuo Sakurai's record company suggested Sakurai to make his 30th anniversary album, released as "My Dear Musiclife". Sakurai accepted his idea but the director asked him to record "Domino Line" in it, as he played that song as Casiopea's Bassist (throughout 1979 to 1990). Sakurai asked the writer of that song, Issei Noro, for permission. Noro answered OK but he said he wouldn't take part in recording. Instead, Noro and Sakurai recorded a new song in Acoustic Arrangement.

The song was called "Mirage" and the album is called "My Dear Musiclife", and it was released on Sept. 9, 2009.

Since then, Noro and Sakurai have been on a Domestic Club tour as Pegasus called the "Nice to Meet you" tour.

Members[edit]

Guitar[edit]

  • Issei Noro(1976–2006, 2012–Present)
    • The only member of Casiopea that wasn't replaced, and the current leader of the band "Inspirits". He has also been part of "Pegasus" with fellow ex-Casiopea bassist Tetsuo Sakurai.

Keyboards[edit]

  • Hidehiko Koike (1976–1977)
    • Played with Casiopea in their first small-time gigs, but left the group (maybe) after Casiopea played in Yamaha's Music contest, "East/West '77". He never played an album with Casiopea, and he never was heard from again until Casiopea's 20th Anniversary in 1999.
  • Minoru Mukaiya (1977–2006)
    • Though Minoru Mukaiya was the replacement keyboardist of Hidehiko Koike, he is considered Casiopea's Original Keyboardist, since Koike never recorded an album with Casiopea. Since 1985, Minoru Mukaiya has been the Chief Executive Officer of Ongakukan, a company which was originally for recording equipment, but now makes Videogames (Mostly Train-Simulators). In 1993, A Japanese Macintosh game was released and made by Ongakukan, called "Touch the Music with Casiopea". Most likely, the sound director and music sequencer was Minoru Mukaiya himself. He is currently the producer and founder of Mukaiya Club.
  • Kiyomi Otaka (2012–Present)
    • Kiyomi Otaka is the newest, and only female, member of Casiopea, and is one of the 2 members (Yoshihiro Naruse being the other) that had a well-established Solo career before joining the group (she's been a solo recording artist since 1998). Unlike Minoru Mukaiya, she originally started as an Organ Player, rather than using Synthesizer Keyboards.

Bass[edit]

  • Tetsuo Sakurai (1976–1989)
    • Casiopea's original Bassist. He and Akira Jimbo left in 1989 to form the Drum/Bass duo known as Jimsaku (the name is a combination of both member's names, as in "Jimbo and Sakurai".) Also, Tetsuo Sakurai is one-half of the Acoustic Guitar and Bass duo, "Pegasus", alongside guitarist Issei Noro.
  • Yoshihiro Naruse (1990–2006, 2012–Present)
    • Known to his fans as "Narucho", he is one of the only 2 Casiopea members to have an established Solo career before joining the band. There's a story going around that when Casiopea (Noro, Sakurai, Koike and Sasaki) showed up to East/West 1977 and Naruse was one of the Judges at the event. Naruse called for an Encore, but the group didn't have another song to play. On one of his first solo albums, "Bass Bawl", Naruse featured Casiopea's Original bassist, Tetsuo Sakurai, on a song called "Captain Chaos".

Drums[edit]

  • Takashi Sasaki (1976–1979)
    • Casiopea's original drummer. He left the group, because he was used to playing complicated rhythms, and Casiopea's sound was too smooth for his style.
  • Akira Jimbo
    • ~Official Drummer~ (1980–1989)
    • ~Support Drummer~ (1997–2006, 2012–Present)
    • Jimbo was Casiopea's best known drummer. He and Tetsuo Sakurai left the group to perform with "Jimsaku". He returned in 1997 and stayed almost a decade more as a Casiopea drummer. Apart from Casiopea, he also plays drums for Issei Noro's backing band, "Inspirits", and for the Nettai Tropical Jazz Big Band.
  • Masaaki Hiyama (1990–1993)
    • Joined the group and replaced Akira Jimbo. He was kicked from the group due to medical problems caused by smoking. Before he could recover, he was replaced by Noriaki Kumagai.
  • Noriaki Kumagai (1993–1997)
    • Replaced Masaaki Hiyama and played as a Casiopea member until 1997, when Akira Jimbo returned to the group. In 2004, he became the drummer for Jazz-Fusion Supergroup TRIX, which features bassist Mitsuru Sutoh (from T-Square), Session Musicians Hiroshi Kubota on keyboard and Takeshi Hirai on Guitar (replaced by electone/piano prodigy Ayaki Saito and guitarist Yuya Komoguchi respectively).
  • Hiroyuki Noritake
    • ~Support Drummer~(2005–2006)
    • Noritake was T-Square's first long-term drummer (he played with them from 1986 to 2005). He and Jimbo met during the event called "Casiopea vs. T-Square" in 2003. The 2 played as "Synchronized DNA" on Casiopea's final original album as a Band.

Discography[edit]

  • Casiopea (1979)
  • Super Flight (1979)
  • Thunder Live (1980)
    • Drummer Takashi Sasaki leaves the band and is replaced by Akira Jimbo.
  • Make Up City (1980)
  • Eyes of the Mind (1981)
    • Harvey Mason begins to be Casiopea's 1st Support Member, Producer and Composer, having played a bit on this album.
  • Cross Point (1981)
    • Though Harvey Mason doesn't play on this album, he did compose 1 song in it, "Any moment (We'll be one)".
  • Mint Jams (live) (1982)
    • Harvey Mason doesn't appear on this album at all.
  • 4x4 (1982)
    • This album has 4 guest Musicians and Casiopea, a band of 4 members, hence the name, 4x4 (Four by Four).
    • The other 4 musicians are drummer Harvey Mason, who, for a while, didn't record with Casiopea after this album was released, bassist Nathan East, guitarist Lee Ritenour and pianist Don Grusin.
    • Except for Don Grusin, all these guest musicians would soon form a Smooth Jazz group of their own, called Fourplay.
  • Photographs (1983)
  • Jive Jive (1983)
  • The Soundgraphy (1984)
    • Casiopea's first Compilation Album.
  • Down Upbeat (1984)
  • Halle (1985)
  • Casiopea Live (1985)
  • Sun Sun (1986)
    • Yukoh Kusonoki joined the group as a Lead Vocalist after the release of this album.
  • Casiopea Perfect Live II (1987)
  • Funky Sound Bombers (1987; Japan-Only Release)
  • Platinum (1987)
  • Euphony (1988)
    • Yukoh Kusunoki left the group.
  • Casiopea World Live '88 (1988)
    • For the live performances on the Japanese part of their World Tour, Casiopea joined forces with 2 Funk Brass Sections, "Spectrum" (who were famous in Japan from 1978 to their break-up in 1981) and "Top Horn" (who once played a Live Version of Koizumi Kyoko's "Wink Killer", which is a Lyricized version of The Square's 1985 hit, "Omens of Love").
  • The Party (1990)
    • Bassist Tetsuo Sakurai is replaced by Yoshihiro Naruse.
    • Drummer Akira Jimbo is replaced by Masaaki Hiyama.
    • Both Sakurai and Jimbo would later form their own Bass/Drum duo, Jimsaku.
  • Full Colors (1991)
  • Active (1992)
  • We Want More (1992)
  • Dramatic (1993)
    • Due to Health Problems caused by smoking, drummer Masaaki Hiyama leaves the band and is replaced by Noriaki Kumagai.
    • Former percussionist of The Square (hereafter known as T-Square), Kiyohiko Senba, makes an appearance on one of the tracks of this album.
  • Answers (1994)
  • Hearty Notes (1994)
    • This is Casiopea's first and only Fully Acoustic album.
  • Asian Dreamer (1994)
    • This is an album that features Casiopea playing new arrangements of their old hits. (Except for the Title track, "Asian Dreamer", which was the only new track on this album).
  • Freshness (1995)
  • Flowers (1996)
  • Light and Shadows (1997)
    • Drummer Noriaki Kumagai leaves the group and is replaced by Support Member Harvey Mason in some recordings, and Former Casiopea Drummer Akira Jimbo in other recordings and live performances.
  • Be (1998)
    • Harvey Mason left the group again.
  • Material (1999)
  • 20th (Casiopea's 20th Anniversary Album) (2000)
  • Bitter Sweet (2000)
  • Single Collection (2001)
  • Main Gate (2001)
  • Inspire (2002)
  • Platinum 2 (2002, Indonesia-Only Release)
  • Places (2003)
  • Marble (2004)
  • Casiopea vs. The Square (2004)
    • The first full release from Casiopea to feature more than one Band since 4x4.
    • Released as both DVD and CD in 2004, Rereleased as Blu-ray and SACD as part of the "Legend of Casiopea" box set in 2009.
  • GIG 25 (Casiopea's 25th Anniversary Album) (2005)
  • Casiopea and Sync DNA: 5 Stars Live! (2005)
    • The first Casiopea live performance to feature both Akira Jimbo and former T-Square drummer Hiroyuki Noritake as Synchronized DNA (shortened to Sync DNA).
  • Signal (2005)
    • The first Casiopea studio Album to feature Sync DNA.
    • The last Casiopea studio album before leader and guitarist Issei Noro decided to put the band on Hiatus (due to having a busy schedule).
  • Gentle & Mellow (Best Studio Recordings Compilation Album, 2006)
  • Groove & Passion (Best Live Performances Compilation Album, 2006)
  • Legend of Casiopea (30th Anniversary Box Set, 2009)
  • Live Liftoff 2012 (Live Performance, performed on 2012, released on 2013)

References[edit]

External links[edit]