Mai Sugimoto is a Japanese born saxophonist and composer living in Chicago, IL. As a child growing up in suburban Tokyo, she still remembers the moment that changed everything: hearing Eric Dolphy’s At the Five Spot for the first time from her father’s music collection.
She performs frequently throughout the Chicago-land area and is a member of Hanami, a quartet that features her original work and arrangements of Japanese music. Sugimoto credits her experience performing with Chicago bassist Tatsu Aoki and his MIYUMI Project as the impetus to rediscover her Japanese roots. Sugimoto draws additional inspiration from Lennie Tristano and his improvisational approach, 90’s and early 00’s J-pop, the Beatles, Glenn Gould, and the unique compositions of her Hanami band mate, guitarist Andrew Trim, and uses this when writing for her new group.