New York City-based bassist and composer Kuriko Tsugawa
Born in Tokyo (Japan) Kuriko Tsugawa started playing bass at the age of fifteen. Soon after
she joined what would become her first jazz ensemble experience, the Tomisato High
School big band, affectionately known as “The Mad Hatters”. As a member of “The Mad
Hatters”, she had the opportunity to perform at major festivals throughout Japan.
Recognition was waiting around the corner, and it was in 1999 that she and her bandmates
won the first prize from the Student Jazz Festival that is held every year by Japan
Association For Jazz Education.
For three consecutive years Kuriko’s “Mad Hatters” shared bill with visiting artist Monterey
High School Big Band in an annual festival held in Tomisato, Japan. This
enriching annual encounters were the spark that ignited Kuriko´s passionate decision to
pursue jazz music in the United States as a career.
Upon graduation from Tomisato High School she studied privately with Kazuteru Harada
and Koichi Osamu for a year, preparing to pursue her dream of studying jazz in the US.
In 2001, she auditioned for Berklee College of Music and won a scholarship to attend the
college starting in 2002. She was now one step closer to her dream.
Since her arrival in Boston she had the opportunity to study with renowned jazz educators
like Hal Crook, Dave Santoro, John Lockwood, Ron Mahdi and the late Herb Pomeroy, and
she played with jazz legends like Joe Lovano, George Garzone, Delfeayo Marsalis, Randy
Brecker, Yellow Jackets founder Russ Ferrante, Makoto Ozone and Danilo Perez. Besides her
many inspiring mentors Kuriko found in Boston a vibrant generation of like-minded young
musicians who have been as crucial for her development as any of her professors.
Her time in Boston paid off, and her quick improvements lead to a really busy performing
schedule. Besides such Boston musts as Wally’s Jazz Café and Ryles Jazz Club Kuriko
performed in a variety of festivals around the New England area and in 2006 was selected
as a member of a quartet representing Berklee in Lucca Jazz Donna Festival in Italy.
2006 was also the year that marked the end of Kuriko’s Bostonian era and saw the
beginning of a new one that which came with the inevitable move to New York City. Within
weeks of arriving in New York she was fortunate enough to land a steady gig in The
Algonquin Hotel in Times Square. Since then she has gotten increasingly active in the
fervent New York jazz scene such as Cleopatra’s Needle, Smalls, Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola,
Fat Cat, Londel’s Supper Club and many more. And she keeps evolving day by day with the
confidence and passion which comes from making one’s dreams come true…
She is currently working as a member of Walter Blanding Group, Anthony Wonsey Quintet
and Daisuke Abe Trio.