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Takashi Matsunaga-or just Takashi to you, me and the Blue Note marketing department-is a 17-year-old Japanese pianist who looks 10 and plays like he’s 40. His debut U.S. release is the trio CD Storm Zone, which follows the Japanese-only Takashi (EMI, 2003) and Spain-which he recorded when he was 10 (the title track is by Chick Corea, one of Takashi’s biggest influences).

Bruce Lundvall, the president of Blue Note says the label decided to release Storm Zone despite Takashi having no U.S. presence or buzz for two reasons: “We did this as both a consideration to our Japanese partners at Blue Note/Toshiba EMI and more importantly because we felt that Takashi is a wonderful, fluid improviser with considerable composing skills, whose work has shown real artistic growth over the past two years.”

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