Akira Jimbo and Kozo Suganuma
Dazzle Audience of 300 at Musicians Institute

Akira Jimbo rocks his Yamaha electronic and acoustic drums

HOLLYWOOD, CA — On January 24, 2002, West L.A. Music and Yamaha presented a concert and clinic with famed Japanese drummers Akira Jimbo and Kozo Suganuma. Both gave outstanding performances that amazed and delighted the audience.

Born in Osaka, Japan, Kozo Suganuma is a drumming virtuoso who's part juggler, part trick artist, part illusionist, and part twirler, with a dash of humor thrown into the mix. This Japanese powerhouse had the crowd mesmerizedŠalmost reverent. A master of 32nd note triplets, Suganuma plays jazz fusion on steroids; heavy metal like a Tasmanian devil. He's flashy but unpretentious; in fact, he's quite engaging! Suganuma made us laugh when he bopped himself on the head with his sticks and spun them over his head like batons, but the real magic was when he connected with the drum heads. "Yamaha drums are hyper and I love it!" he exclaimed.

Suganuma drummed to different styles of pre-recorded tracks, effortlessly navigating rhythmic U-turns. Although he claims to have started playing drums at age eight, he led us to believe that he'd been playing since he was a zygote. Although not very fluent in English, Suganuma is extremely fluent in rhythm and beat. "Please listen," he said with a smile. The sticks were a mere blur. His blindingly fast percussive assault on the bass drum sounded like a machine gun. We half expected him to start levitating! Then Akira Jimbo took the stage...

The Evolution of Drumming has Arrived!

Akira Jimbo's percussive talents are simply astonishing. When he opened his set with a spacey "R2D2" version of Stevie Wonder's "Superstition," the audience was awestruck. Then he launched into a funky disco version of Eric Clapton's "I Shot the Sheriff" that had our feet tapping, making many wish for a dance floor. Jimbo is more than a drummer/percussionist--he's a sonic artisan; a blacksmith hammering on an orchestral shoe. He often plays four independent rhythms simultaneously with ease, not to mention playing all other instruments in the "band" through his drum kit. How does he do it?

Jimbo plays a sophisticated Yamaha DTXTREME electronic setup combined with a "power" size Beech Custom Absolute kit. With this setup, Jimbo can play an entire song by himself, including bass, keyboards, sound effects, guitar, brass and woodwinds. Who needs a band? He plays harmony and melody in real time with no sequencing. In fact, he's making a video about how to use the system (to be released in Fall 2002). Jimbo plays like an octopusŠit was hard to believe that the incredible full sound was coming from just four limbs. Jimbo also has his own line of Yamaha products, including a signature snare and drum sticks. For more information about Jimbo's setup, contact Glenn Noyes at West L.A. Music at 310-477-1945.

Jimbo Reveals the Secrets of Amazing Drumming

Jimbo is an incredibly gracious showman with a gift for teaching as well as playing. Jimbo started playing drums at 17 and is self-taught. He says his biggest influence is legendary drummer Steve Gadd. He first copied Gadd's style, then morphed it into his unique approach. Jimbo advises young hopefuls to "Use what your favorite drummer does, but make it your own. Put some spice in it--like wasabi!"

An audience member asked how he can play so fast. "Start slow, then build up speed," Jimbo counsels. "It takes time. You improve step by step, little by little." As for playing a fast bass drum, Jimbo points out: "Most drummers have trouble with their left foot. I recommend practicing bass note triplets with the left foot on the downbeat." When asked how often he practices, he said, "I used to practice 10 hours a day. Now I don't practice so much. I've been playing for 26 years now." Another audience member asked about maintaining stamina while playing for extended periods of time. Jimbo smiled and replied, "The key is to relax. When I'm playing very fast, my arms are completely relaxed. I'm not a macho man. You just need to calm down!"

Both Jimbo and Suganuma smile a lot when they're playingŠthey have an almost gleeful expression that endears them to their fans. They had many new converts by the end of the showŠa least 100 people lined up and waited patiently for Jimbo and Suganuma's autograph. If you didn't want to be a drummer when you walked in, you definitely wanted to try it by the time you left!

About West L.A. Music

For over 30 years, West L.A. Music has supplied music, audio and recording equipment to top artists around the world. The first music retailer to implement a "beat any deal" policy, industry insiders count on West L.A. Music's personalized knowledgeable service and comprehensive selection of professional products from leading manufacturers.

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For more information, call West L.A. Music at 310-477-1945