Joh Yamada's mastery of the alto saxophone has garnered a lot of praise from Tokyo's jazz aficionados, as well as the admiration of jazz lovers throughout his native Japan. Readers of one of the country's leading jazz publications, Swing Journal, named him the top alto saxophonist in a poll that pitted him against the great Sadao Watanabe, among others. Fans even dubbed Yamada "the prince of Japanese jazz." Before the saxophonist became a teenager, he had already begun honing his skill on the instrument. Daniel Banks and Hajime Maekawa were two of his early instructors, and later Yamada studied with Berkeley Music School's Joe Viola. Yamada also spent time enrolled in Japan's Hitotsubashi University. After studying in the U.S., he went home to Japan in 1990 and pursued a career in jazz. He performs at numerous nightspots throughout Tokyo with the Keiji Matsushima Quintet, which he co-leads, as well as with the Izumi Masakiyo Trio and the Dairiki Hara Group. With Seiji Tada, he led the Alto Nakayoshi Koyoshi Quintet. He has also performed with the Yutaka Shiina Quintet, an outfit that includes Tomoyuki Shima, Tomonao Hara, and Masahiko Osaka. As a guest, he sat in with a quintet led by Hara and Osaka. He has shared the stage with such artists as Mikio Masuda, Takaaki Miyanoue, Kousuke Mine, Terumasa Hino, Motohiko Hino, Junko Onishi, Takehiro Honda, and Toshiko Akiyoshi.
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