Yuma Uesaka is a New York-based saxophonist, composer, and educator from Michigan. Sought after for his versatile improvisational sensibility, Yuma has performed with Tyshawn Sorey, Jorge Roeder, Kendrick Scott, Andrew D’Angelo, and Jeff Lederer in the recent years. He is an alumnus of 2016 Banff International Jazz and Creative Music Workshop, directed by pianist-composer Vijay Iyer.
He began playing the saxophone at age ten and soon after started to pursue jazz. During high school, he was a part of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s Civic Jazz Orchestra, where he received tutelage from bassist Rodney Whitaker.
In May 2014, Yuma received his bachelor’s degree in Jazz and Contemplative Studies (BFA) at the University of Michigan, where he studied under Robert Hurst, Geri Allen, Andrew Bishop, Ellen Rowe, and Martha Travers. Upon his graduation, Yuma received the Earl V. Moore Award in Music, given to the most outstanding musician in the graduating class. While in Ann Arbor, Yuma performed with a diverse range of musical groups including Phil Ogilvie’s Rhythm Kings, Tree City and the Contraband, and Vincent Chandler Septet,at venues such as Cliff Bell’s, Bert’s, Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe, and Kerrytown Concert House. During his time at Michigan, he had the privilege of performing with numerous jazz greats such as Lee Konitz, David Liebman, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Buster Williams, Geri Allen, and Robert Hurst amongst others.
Yuma has performed in Detroit International Jazz Festival, Burlington Discover Jazz Festival, Lima-Peru ICPNA Jazz Festival, Otsu Jazz Festival, and Shanghai Jiao Tong University International Culture Festival, to name a few.
Yuma released his debut album, Spear and Shield, in June 2015. Dave Sumner from jazz blog, Bird is the Worm, praises the album as a “compelling debut from saxophonist Uesaka, who susses out some powerful moments from his gentle lyricism.”
Yuma is a member of Polyfold Musical Arts Collective, whose focus is to support the creation, presentation, and ongoing development of creative music, and to foster artistic expression through education and outreach.
Currently, Yuma resides in Brooklyn, New York immersing himself in the downtown improvisational music scene.