Songs for J-Town: Performer Bios

Mark Izu
EMMY winning composer Mark Izu, a third generation Japanese-American, has fused the traditional music of Asia with African-American improvisation. Izu plays acoustic bass as well as several traditional Asian instruments such as the Sheng (Chinese multi- reed instrument) and Sho (Japanese multi-reed instrument). Izu has gained international recognition for developing a new musical genre, Asian American Jazz, and has performed with artists such as James Newton, Steve Lacy, Zakir Hussain, Kent Nagano, George Lewis, Cecil Taylor, Anthony Brown, and Jon Jang.

Izu has composed scores for film, live music concerts and theater. In 2009 Izu won an EMMY for Out Standing Music for his score in Bolinao 52. His film scores include Steven Okazaki’s Academy Award-winning Days of Waiting; Emmy-winning documentary, Return to the Valley; and a new score for the DVD release of Sessue Hayakawa’s 1909 masterpiece, The Dragon Painter (Milestones DVD - 2007). His theater scores have been performed at the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, and Sundance Festival and he was awarded a Dramalogue Award for Best Original Music & two INDIE Awards for best CD. His recordings include The Queen’s Garden (INDIE Award 1999), Tales of the Pacific Rim (INDIE Award 1990), Circle of Fire (Top 10 picks of the year, SF Bay Guardian), and recordings with the Grammy nominated Asian American Orchestra. Izu’s CD Threading Time featuring masters Togi Suenobu (Gagaku) and Zakir Hussain (tabla) was released in Tokyo in 2007. Izu’s other awards include Meet the Composer, Asian Business League Artist Award, Rockefeller MAP, National Endowment for the Arts, and San Francisco Arts Commission, Izu was a founding faculty member of Stanford’s Institute of Diversity for the Arts in 2002. In 2007 Aoki & Izu received the US/Japan Creative Arts Fellowship to Japan sponsored by the NEA and the Bunkacho.

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