Although this band is called Neo Blues Maki, don’t think that their sound is limited to that genre. Instead, the New York group takes on a progressive, jazzy sound that touches on everything from R&B to rock to enka, the latter of which is a type of sentimental Japanese ballad.
The band, made up of Soshi Uchida on bass, Kayo Yoshioka on vocals, Junya Yamaguchi on keyboard, David Linaburg/Kappa Tanabe on guitar and Lucianna Padmore/Mark Bell on drums, formed in New York due to Uchida, Yoshioka and Yamaguchi knowing each other when they lived in Japan.
Ucida moved to New York in 2006 and started performing at the Village Underground’s Open Mic Night, displaying his blues-jazz bass skills. Yoshioka came to New York to learn gospel music, a popular genre in the country. Yamaguchi had also moved to the City, looking for a place to put his talents as a keyboard player and arranger in jazz fusion, funk and R&B to good use.
“We got together and agreed that we could put together a unique band by having Kayo sing in Japanese while the band played New York-influenced arrangements,” Uchida said.
Soon after adding Linaburg/Tanabe and Padmore/Bell, the band quickly found a unique sound that combined the soulful aspect of Japanese music with the jazz-blues touches of New York. Based in Astoria, thanks to the residencies Uchida and Yamaguchi have there, Neo Blues Maki released their debut self-produced, self-titled record in April 2011.
They are hard at work on their next release as well. In addition to getting that album out to their fans, the group hopes to expand their New York performances to the rest of the U.S. and to other nations, such as Japan.