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Osaka-born Kazuhisa Uchihashi is a guitarist, free-improviser and founder of the band Altered States, the label Zenbei Records, and the Beyond Innocence festival. Having mastered and navigated many musical styles from blues to jazz to free improvisation, he has expanded the potential of the electric guitar by using the instrument in new contexts and manipulating its sound with various effects.
Uchihashi started playing guitar when he was twelve. After a folk and rock stint during high school, his subsequent education in jazz technique helped give him the tools to play in clubs and studios. Since about 1983 he has devoted himself primarily to free improvisation.
In 1988, Uchihashi joined the band First Edition, originally formed by drummer Yasuhiro Yoshigaki. Two years later, he and electric bassist Mitsuru Nashuno began the project Altered States, a band still in operation today. Originally an endeavor within the jazz genre, Altered States has since reached out into more adventurous musical territory and has long identified itself most strongly with rock-flavoured improvisation. Uchihashi is also a member of the free improv trio EQ, the jazz trio Triopunk, and the trio Stereodrom, in which he is joined by electronics, noise machine and saxophone. He particularly savors opportunities to collaborate with vocalists and theatre groups, and has also been involved in the production of film soundtracks.
As an equally active organizer and educator, Uchihashi has done very much to carry forward and develop Japan’s free improv culture. For twenty years he has led an improvisation-oriented workshop called New Music Action, and for two years in a row his Kobe-based festival, Beyond Innocence, welcomed more than fifty improvisers from Japan and abroad.