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Label Watch: Satellites Records

Guitarist Ryo Kawasaki founded a label to make electronic dance music, but he's gradually moving it toward the music he started out making: jazz

Ryo Kawasaki of Satellites Records
Ryo Kawasaki

There was a period of time in the mid-’80s when guitarist Ryo Kawasaki fell deeply under the spell of computers. He became so immersed in exploring the potential of MIDI technology, working 12 to 16 hours a day writing music software programs for the Commodore computer, that his guitar sat in the corner untouched, collecting dust. During this techno phase, the one-time sideman to Gil Evans, Elvin Jones, Chico Hamilton and Dave Liebman produced a series of high-charting 12-inch dance singles that mixed free-style, house, acid house and ambient sounds, all done entirely in his home studio. He formed his own Satellites Records in 1987 to release his techno dance music.

By 1991, Kawasaki returned to playing after being signed by the new jazz and adult contemporary Japanese label One Voice. In addition to releasing the beautiful solo acoustic guitar album, Here, There and Everywhere, he produced and performed on two albums by Brazilian singer and guitarist Camilia Benson for One Voice. He followed up with another solo acoustic album, My Reverie (music from Bill Evans, Debussy, Ravel and Gershwin), and the electric guitar-oriented Love Within the Universe, which received considerable NAC airplay across the country.

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