[Uesaka] has arrived with a mature conception, and the tools to execute it, all promising more to savour in the future”

-John Sharpe, All About Jazz

Yuma Uesaka (b. 1991) is a Japanese-American saxophonist, clarinetist, improviser, performer, and composer based in New York City since 2014. Over the last decade, Yuma has contributed to scenes that embrace various experimental and historic practices primarily rooted in jazz, creative improvised music, and new music. His music often explores the fringes of instrumental and compositional techniques to question traditional musical roles and deconstruct assumed binaries of improvised/composed, acoustic/electronic, and music/noise.


Collaboration is central to Yuma’s musical practice. Described as “packed with unexpected details and aglow with shared intuition” by WBGO, Streams documents an intimate duo with pianist Marilyn Crispell. He is also a member of Ocelot, a co-led trio with Cat Toren and Colin Hinton whose eponymous album was listed as Best Jazz March 2021 on Bandcamp. In 2022, he joined Tropos, a collaborative quartet featuring Ledah Finck, Aaron Edgcomb, and Phillip Golub. Both Ocelot and Tropos received Chamber Music America’s Ensemble Forward Grant to produce forthcoming albums under the guidance of Wadada Leo Smith and Darius Jones, respectively.


More recently, Yuma has been developing works for solo woodwinds. These works emphasize the physicality of acoustic instrumental performance, pushing its sonic capabilities to the limit by engaging with circular breathing, vocalizing, and extreme articulations. He also incorporates and amplifies typically suppressed sounds such as saliva and air noise to emulate timbres often found in electronic music.


An active sideperson, Yuma has performed in groups led by Anna Webber, Lesley Mok, and DoYeon Kim, at venues such as Roulette, National Sawdust, and The Jazz Gallery. He can be heard on Pi, American Dreams, and NotTwo Records. As a composer, he has received recognition from the ASCAP Foundation, Metropolis, and Either/Or Ensemble.

Curriculum Vitae for the knowledge hungry folks