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Ryo Kawasaki, guitarist and synth trailblazer, has died aged 73

Ryo Kawasaki, Japanese jazz fusion guitarist who pioneered the use of the synthesizer, has died at the age of 73.

Kawasaki passed away in his adopted hometown of Tallinn, Estonia, on April 13th. His death was confirmed by his daughter Tane Kawasaki Saavedra: “My daddy. A true original,” she said in a post on social media. “Just as your name suggests, you did illuminate, set it afire, and your fire will burn forever as your music plays on and we continue to carry your light.”

Having built the foundations of his glittering career throughout the 1960s where he performed with a number of different Japanese jazz groups, Kawasaki is arguably best remembered for his collaboration with Roland Corporation and Korg in the development of the guitar synthesizer.

In the early 1970s, after deciding to move to New York City where he worked with likes of Gil Evans, Elvin Jones, Ted Curson, Joanne Brackeen and more, Kawasaki continued to work on the idea of guitar synths and, in the 1980s, slowly made writing music software for computer his sole ambition.

Kawasaki’s eclectic and wide-ranging career saw him produce a number of different dance music and techno tracks and founding his own record company called Satellites Records. Later, after experimenting with different genres of music, he returned to jazz fusions

He also produced several techno dance singles, formed his own record company called Satellites Records, and later returned to jazz-fusion and continued to perform with his contemporary jazz fusion ensemble, Level 8, up until his death.

See the post by Tane Kawasaki Saavedra, below.