Tiger Onitsuka -Jazz Drummer

Tiger Onitsuka was born in 1998 and received his first drum set for his 5th birthday. It did not take long for him to start playing the swing beat, which he had been exposed to in his parents' Jazz CD collection even before he was born. He quickly acquired a variety of rhythms and started playing in jam sessions at local jazz clubs. Little Onitsuka once surprised the audience of Blue Note Osaka (current Bill Board Osaka) by joining the Terumasa Hino Quintet on stage to play one song. Within a year, he began to receive opportunities to play in numerous concerts and gigs. In 2005, at the age of 7, he performed in front of an audience at two jazz clubs in New York City, SMOKE and St. Nick's Pub in Harlem.

In 2007, following a successful concert at the world heritage Kamigamo Shrine in Kyoto, Onitsuka played drums with the Toshiko Akiyoshi Trio for her concert at the Yokohama Jazz Promenade. He also performed at Ginza International Jazz Festival with his band Tiger, Burning Bright.

In 2008, Onitsuka returned to the United States and performed with Eddie Henderson (tp) in New York City and with Marlon Jordan (tp) in New Orleans. That same year he was invited to play in concerts and festivals in Korea, Singapore and Spain. Performances in Japan by his band included the Blue Note Nagoya and Tokyo Midtown for the premiere showcase of Tokyo Jazz. Onitsuka also had a memorable concert with the late pianist Hank Jones in Kobe. At the time, Jones was 88 years old while Onitsuka was only 8.

Following his first album Tiger!, for which he was recognized at the age of 9 as the world's youngest professional drummer by the Guinness Book of World Records in 2008, Onitsuka released another album from SAVOY/Columbia label, A Time In New York. It was recorded at the Clinton Recording Studio in New York City with bassist Buster Williams and pianist Benny Green. During the same year, the trio had a successful Japan tour at eight venues including Blue Note Nagoya and Sogo Concert Hall.

In 2013, Onitsuka recorded two albums in New Orleans with various jazz musicians including Ellis Marsalis (p), Kermit Ruffins (vo, to), and Cory Henry (tb) among others. Both Marsalis and Ruffins were so impressed with young Onitsuka's talent that they each invited him to play on their stages at Satchmo Summer Festival held the following week in New Orleans.

In 2014, Onitsuka decided to explore the world of classical percussion, following the advice of jazz drummer Kenny Washington. He took intensive lessons with former Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra percussionist Hiroshi Sakagami and within 6 months acquired the techniques to play the classical snare drum, tympani and marimba with 4 mallets. He passed the audition for The Juilliard School Pre-college in the same year, for which he was offered the Rohm Music Foundation scholarship as the first in jazz and the youngest recipient. (Unfortunately he was forced to decline the scholarship and was unable to attend The Juilliard School due to financial constraints.)

Onitsuka has led experimental ensemble courses for young children aspiring to be drummers at Music Labo, a private music school in Kyoto.

Tiger Onitsuka has performed with;
Hank Jones (p), Toshiko Akiyoshi (p), Terumasa Hino (tp), Eddie Henderson (tp), Buster Williams (b), Benny Green (p), Ellis Marsalis (p), Lou Donaldson (as), Bob Cranshaw (b), Mitsuru "Nishi" Nishiyama (b), Tommy Campbell (dr), Pat LaBarbera (ts), Don Thompson (p), Othello Molineaux (steel drum), Kermit Ruffins (vo, tp), Delfeayo Marsalis (tb), Marlon Jordan (tp), Clifton Anderson (tb), John Farnsworth (ts), Mike Ledonne (p), Henry Franklyn (b), Paul Jackson (b), Carlton Holms (p), Dwayne Burno (b), Jason Stewart (b), Kevin Morris (b), Cory Henry (tb), David Torkanowski (p), Yoshitaka "Z2" Tsuji (p), Evelyn Blakey (vo), John DeMartino (p), Ed Howard (b), Takuya Kuroda (tp), Greg Bandy (dr), Tony Williams (as), Yosuke Yamashita (p), Yosuke Inoue (b), Kengo Nakamura (b) Satoshi Inoue (g), Eiji Kitamura (cl), Kazumi Watanabe (g), Tom Kanematsu (g), Mingus Big Band, Sienna Wind Orchestra, Yutaka Sado (Conductor) among others.

Tiger Onitsuka has recorded with;
Eddie Henderson (tp), Buster Williams (b), Benny Green (p), Ellis Marsalis (p), Mitsuru "Nishi" Nishiyama (b), Kermit Ruffins (vo, tp), Marlon Jordan (tp), Jason Stewart (b), Kevin Morris (b), Cory Henry (tb), David Torkanowski (p), Yoshitaka "Z2" Tsuji (p), Yosuke Inoue (b), Fumio Karashima (p), Takuya Kuroda (tp), Carlos Kanno (perc) among others.

(October 2016j