Casiopea (カシオペア, Kashiopea ) was a Japanese jazz fusion band that was formed in 1976 by guitarist Issei Noro, bassist Tetsuo Sakurai and keyboardist Hidehiko Koike. In 1977, keyboardist Minoru Mukaiya and drummer Takashi Sasaki joined the group, leaving Hidehiko out of Casiopea. The group debuted with the self-titled album Casiopea in 1979, featuring Randy Brecker and Michael Brecker as guest musicians. In 1980, Takashi was replaced by Akira Jimbo. Casiopea has released over 35 albums to date in both Japan and the United States.
Some of Casiopea's most famous tracks include Asayake, Galactic Funk and Eyes of The Mind.
HistoryThey were first signed to Alfa Records in 1979.
Galactic Funk first featured in their 1981 album "Crosspoint" which had around 10 different versions recorded both live and in studio.
Casiopea has been countlessly regarded as "similar" to the British band Level 42. Also, Casiopea has played live with various artists such as Level 42, The Square (now known as T-Square and Sync DNA (A Drumming Duo of Casiopea's Akira Jimbo, and T-Square's Hiroyuki Noritake).
The album Eyes of the Mind was released in the United States in 1981. They then released the album Mint Jams in 1982, followed by Four by Four the same year, which was a collaborative album with Lee Ritenour, Harvey Mason, Nathan East and Don Grusin (all except Don Grusin later became founding members of Fourplay). Their first overseas concert was held in the United Kingdom in 1983. The group has toured Europe, South America, Australia, and Southeast Asia.
In 1987, Casiopea signed to another Record Label, Polydor.
In 1989, Akira Jimbo and Tetsuo Sakurai left the band following several years of musical differences. They later formed their own duo-band, Jimsaku. For their replacement, Casiopea chose Yoshihiro Naruse (bass) and Masaaki Hiyama (drums). They signed to yet another record label, Pioneer.
In 1993, the group once again changed its members. Noriaki Kumagai came to replace Masaaki, and a year later, 1994, the group Signed once again to Alfa Records, but signed to Pony Canyon in the later part of the year. Then in 1997, Akira returned to Casiopea, this time as a part-time member, recording more albums and again contributing some of the compositions.
In 2000, The Group signed once again to Pioneer. Only 4 years later, 2004, the group signed to Geneon Entertainment.
In 2006, Issei Noro, the group's leader, decided to freeze all activities of the band until further notice.
However, A limited-edition box set almost all of Casiopea's Albums called "Legend of Casiopea" has been released on May 27, 2009 in Japan. It features 2 Albums that were never released as a CD, the first of which is called "Cuts", and the 2nd of which is called "Air-Skip".
OttottrioIn 1987, T-Square's Guitarist Masahiro Andoh, and T-Square's Drummer Hiroyuki Noritake, had met Issei Noro (guitarist of Casiopea) and current KORENOS guitarist Hirokuni Korekata, and created a Supergroup called Ottottrio, and added in keyboardists Chizuko Yoshihiro and Shotoku Sasaji, and Bassist Chiharu Mikuzuki to make the band whole. The group released 3 albums, 2 in 1988 and one called "Triptych" 10 years later. 9 years before releasing "Triptytch", Ottottrio performed on "The Super Fusion" in 1989, with all members of T-Square and Casiopea, respectively, as well as Ottottrio's aforementioned backing band.
Synchronized DNAIn 2005, Casiopea Drummer, Akira Jimbo and T-Square Drummer, Hiroyuki Noritake, had a Drum Duo called "Synchronized DNA", who also played a concert with Casiopea, released as a CD called "Signal" and a DVD called "Casiopea + Sync DNA: 5 Stars Live".
InspiritsIssei Noro and Akira Jimbo, along with Pianist Kent Ohgiya, Keyboardist Ryo Hayashi and Bassist Yuji Yajima, are all members of Noro's Band, "Inspirits", whom Noro has performed with since 2008. As of December 2, 2009, They've released 2 Albums.
PegasusIn 2009, A director from Tetsuo Sakurai's record company suggested Sakurai to make his 30th anniversary album, released as "My Dear Musiclife". Sakurai accepted his idea but the director asked him to record "Domino Line" in it, as he played that song as Casiopea's Bassist (throughout 1979 to 1990). Sakurai asked the writer of that song, Issei Noro, for permission. Noro answered OK but he said he wouldn't take part in recording. Instead, Noro and Sakurai recorded a new song in Acoustic Arrangement.
The song was called "Mirage" and the album is called "My Dear Musiclife", and it was released on Sept. 9, 2009.
Since then, Noro and Sakurai have been on a Domestic Club tour as Pegasus called the "Nice to Meet you" tour, However, Noro doesn't take part in the Recordings.
- Issei Noro (1976–2006)
- The only member of Casiopea that wasn't replaced.
- Hidehiko Koike (1976–1977)
- Played with Casiopea in their first small-time gigs, but left the group (maybe) after Casiopea played in Yamaha's Music contest, "East/West '77". He never played an album with Casiopea, and he never was heard from again until Casiopea's 20th Anniversary in 1999.
- Minoru Mukaiya (1977–2006)
- Though Minoru Mukaiya was the replacement keyboardist of Hidehiko Koike, he is considered Casiopea's Original Keyboardist, since Koike never recorded an album with Casiopea. Since 1985, Minoru Mukaiya has been the Chief Executive Officer of Ongakukan, a company which was originally for recording equipment, but now makes Videogames (Mostly Train-Simulators). In 1993, A Japanese Macintosh game was released and made by Ongakukan, called "Touch the Music with Casiopea". Most likely, the sound director and music sequencer was Minoru Mukaiya himself.
- Tetsuo Sakurai (1976–1989)
- Casiopea's original Bassist. He and Akira Jimbo left in 1989 to form the Drum/Bass duo known as Jimsaku (the name is a combination of both member's names, as in "Jimbo and Sakurai". Also, Tetsuo Sakurai is one-half of the Acoustic Guitar and Bass duo, "Pegasus", alongside guitarist Issei Noro.
- Yoshihiro Naruse (1990–2006)
- The only Casiopea member to have an established Solo career before joining the band. Naruse was one of the Judges at "East/West '77". On one of his first solo albums, "Bass Bawl", Naruse featured Casiopea's Original bassist, Tetsuo Sakurai, on a song called "Captain Chaos".
- Takashi Sasaki (1976–1979)
- Casiopea's original drummer. He left the group, because he was used to playing complicated rhythms, and Casiopea's sound was too smooth for his style.
- Akira Jimbo (1980–1989, 1997 (Part Time)-2006)
- Jimbo was Casiopea's best known drummer. He and Tetsuo Sakurai left the group to perform with "Jimsaku". He returned in 1997 and stayed almost a decade more as a Casiopea drummer. He is currently the drummer for Issei Noro's backing band, "Inspirits".
- Masaaki Hiyama (1990–1993)
- Joined the group and replaced Akira Jimbo. He was kicked from the group due to medical problems caused by smoking. Before he could recover, he was replaced by Noriaki Kumagai.
- Noriaki Kumagai (1993–1997)
- Replaced Masaaki Hiyama and played as a Casiopea member until 1997, when Akira Jimbo returned to the group.
- Hiroyuki Noritake (2005–2006)
- Noritake was T-Square's first long-term drummer (he played with them from 1986 to 2005). He and Jimbo met during the event called "Casiopea vs. T-Square" in 2003. The 2 played as "Synchronized DNA" on Casiopea's final original album as a Band.
- Casiopea (1979)
- Super Flight (1979)
- Thunder Live (1980)
- Drummer Takashi Sasaki leaves the band and is replaced by Akira Jimbo.
- Make Up City (1980)
- Eyes of the Mind (1981)
- Harvey Mason begins to be Casiopea's 1st Support Member, Producer and Composer, having played a bit on this album.
- Cross Point (1981)
- Though Harvey Mason doesn't play on this album, he did compose 1 song in it, "Any moment (We'll be one)".
- Mint Jams (1982)
- Harvey Mason doesn't appear on this album at all.
- 4x4 (1982)
- This album has 4 guest Musicians and Casiopea, a band of 4 members, hence the name, 4x4 (Four by Four).
- The other 4 musicians are drummer Harvey Mason, who, for a while, didn't record with Casiopea after this album was released, bassist Nathan East, guitarist Lee Ritenour and pianist Don Grusin.
- Except for Don Grusin, all these guest musicians would soon form a Smooth Jazz group of their own, called Fourplay.
- Photographs (1983)
- Jive Jive (1983)
- The Soundgraphy (1984)
- Down Upbeat (1984)
- Halle (1985)
- Casiopea Live (1985)
- Sun Sun (1986)
- Casiopea Perfect Live II (1987)
- Yukoh Kusonoki joined the group as a Lead Vocalist.
- Funky Sound Bombers (1987; Japan-Only Release)
- Platinum (1987)
- Euphony (1988)
- Yukoh Kusunoki left the group.
- Casiopea World Live '88 (1988)
- For the live performances on the Japanese part of their World Tour, Casiopea joined forces with a Brass Section known as "Spectrum" (who were famous in Japan from 1978 to their break-up in 1981).
- The Party (1990)
- Bassist Tetsuo Sakurai is replaced by Yoshihiro Naruse.
- Drummer Akira Jimbo is replaced by Masaaki Hiyama.
- Both Sakurai and Jimbo were later their own Bass/Drum duo, Jimsaku.
- Full Colors (1991)
- Active (1992)
- We Want More (1992)
- Dramatic (1993)
- Due to Health Problems caused by smoking, drummer Masaaki Hiyama leaves the band and is replaced by Noriaki Kumagai.
- Former percussionist of The Square (now known as T-Square), Kiyohiko Senba, makes an appearance on one of the tracks of this album.
- Answers (1994)
- Hearty Notes (1994)
- This is Casiopea's first and only Fully Acoustic album.
- Asian Dreamer (1994)
- This is an album that features Casiopea playing new arrangements of their old hits. (Except for the Title track, "Asian Dreamer", which was the only new track on this album.
- Freshness (1995)
- Flowers (1996)
- Light and Shadows (1997)
- Drummer Noriaki Kumagai leaves the group and is replaced by Support Member Harvey Mason in some recordings, and Former Casiopea Drummer Akira Jimbo in other recordings and live performances.
- Be (1998)
- Harvey Mason left the group again.
- Material (1999)
- 20th (Casiopea's 20th Anniversary Album) (2000)
- Bitter Sweet (2000)
- Main Gate (2001)
- Inspire (2002)
- Platinum 2 (2002, Indonesia-Only Release)
- Places (2003)
- Marble (2004)
- Casiopea vs. T-Square (2004)
- The first full release from Casiopea to feature more than one Band since 4x4.
- Released as both DVD and CD in 2004, Rereleased as Blu-Ray and SACD as part of the "Legend of Casiopea" box set in 2009.
- GIG 25 (Casiopea's 25th Anniversary Album) (2005)
- Casiopea and Sync DNA: 5 Stars Live! (2005)
- The first Casiopea live performance to feature both Akira Jimbo and former T-Square drummer Hiroyuki Noritake as Synchronized DNA (shortened to Sync DNA).
- Signal (2005)
- The first Casiopea studio Album to feature Sync DNA.
- The last Casiopea studio album before guitarist Issei Noro decided to put the band on Hiatus (due to having a busy schedule).
- Gentle & Mellow (Best Studio Recordings Album, 2006)
- Groove & Passion (Best Live Performances Album, 2006)
- Legend of Casiopea (30th Anniversary Box Set, 2009)