Born in Tokyo, Japan, TSUYOSHI NIWA (*) started playing the alto saxophone when he was 15. Previously, he was playing the trumpet. He also tried the trombone during his junior high school years. But, it was when he landed on the sax that he was deeply drawn to music, especially the improvisational aspect of jazz, which he initially taught himself.
(*Watch YouTube video entitled “Away and Home”, where his name was pronounced accurately.)
After graduating a college as a chemistry major, Tsuyoshi passed an audition to enroll New School in New York City. For three years, he studied jazz performances and compositions with mentors like George Garzone, Phil Markowitz, Reggie Workman and Dave Liebman. Tsuyoshi started to focus on his soprano saxophone during this time.
To remain in New York after he left the school, he decided to work full time. First, he worked as a food chemist for a Japanese noodle factory. And later, he became a system engineer, as he qualified to obtain a work visa with his advanced knowledge of computers which he self-taught since he was 10.
When he was offered to work for the computer company with a green card sponsorship, Tsuyoshi also had another ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity. EMI Italy offered him to tour with Amalia Gre, whom Tsuyoshi assisted for her recording project at the time. With almost no hesitation, he decided to quit his job and flew to Rome.
After completing a four-month-long tour, two albums for Amalia and one for himself, Tsuyoshi returned to Japan. He took a job in Tokyo to prepare himself to go back to New York.
Seven years later, in 2011, Tsuyoshi returned to NY for the second time. In 2013, he recorded his fourth album with Randy Brecker, Billy Kilson, Phil Palombi and Yuichi Inoue at the Bunker Studio in Brooklyn. The release concert was held at the Blue Note New York in October 2013.
As his artist visa expired, Tsuyoshi returned to Japan, only to find he was no longer able to fit in after living in NY for 12 years. With another financial preparation, Tsuyoshi embarked on a world wide trip in 2017.