Deeper into 'aya legacy'
Born in Osaka, Japan in 1971 and raised between her hometown and Singapore, Aya’s life always revolved around art and music. Introduced to the classical piano at a young age, her formative years were spent developing her curiosity for rhythm as a percussionist in a brass band. She later reverted to her first instrument when she studied Jazz piano and improvisation at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. Mentored by great jazz pianists like Aaron Goldberg and Yuki Arimasa and the late Sophia Rosoff, Aya is especially in awe of Rosoff whom she credits for changing her concept of virtuosity, all in the span of one fateful lesson. While rooted in bebop and modern jazz traditions, her searching and fleeting improvisations have aligned her with the language of free jazz. This has provided flexibility to her musical palette allowing her to take part in multi-disciplinary collaborations with artists of diverse backgrounds to create new music. Her experience and infatuations for punk, rock, hiphop, funk, soul, Brazilian music especially from the underground scene of Japan and New York City in the 90’s have led to a harmonically rich and innovative style as a musician - Aya’s unforgettable performative presentations and deliveries are often quirky yet elegant.
After a decade of studying and performing in America, Aya was invited in 2002 as the resident pianist of the legendary Jazz @ Southbridge in Singapore and since then, she has developed her craft, performing and refining the idiom of Jazz in South East Asia. Aya is a first call session musician in Singapore and she has performed with the world’s top artists including trumpeter Marcus Printup of the Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra, saxophonist Dale Barlow, beatbox musician Felix Zenger, drummer Erik Hargrove, trumpeter Greg Glassman and vocalist Kavita Shah. Aya’s recent stage credits in South East Asia also include performances at international music festivals such as Thailand International Jazz Conference (2019, 2020), Chiang Mai Street Jazz Festival (2019), Singapore International Festival of Arts (2018), Neon Lights (2018), CHOPPA Experimental Music Festival (2017) and Singapore International Jazz Festival (2016). In 2010, Ayaschool a music improvisation residency became one of the ‘Top Ten Acts’ published by The Straits Times, the English flagship newspaper of Singapore.
Besides music performance, Aya’s compositional and arranging capacities have been showcased in her role as music director for projects like; Dari Kalbuku Rudy Djoe Digital Showcase , arranging traditional Malay/Indonesia music (2020), School Is Out! Discover Jazz, a jazz appreciation concert for 500 public school kids (2019), arranging Cantonese pop music into jazz at the Siglap National Day fundraising Dinner for Singapore politician Dr Osman Maliki (2019), music directing Theatre@LASALLE production Romeo And Juliet (2014), and ‘Pin’ a composition project for The Pipa (Chinese mandolin) Quartet (2014)
Enlightening the Next Generation
Aya’s prolificity as a performer is only matched by her passion for grooming the next generation of Jazz musicians as an educator and mentor in and out of campus. She has been an adjunct lecturer of LASALLE College of The Arts (Singapore) since 2008, having mentored many students through principle studies, ensembles, sight reading and music entrepreneurship courses. Outside of school, she facilitates collective improvisation workshops ‘Jungle Jam’, jazz listening appreciations seminars and is often found as one of the judging and discussion panels in the field of music, arts and the community.
Globally Celebrated Jazz Advocate
Widely known as a game changer in the music scene, Aya has incorporated Bon Goût Music in 2012, a multi-faceted company offering eclectic music event programming, international tour programming and consultations for jazz and non-mainstream independent artists management. In 2016 she founded the non-profit We Love Jazz (Singapore) Limited. (‘WLJ SG’), aiming to unify and strengthen the jazz and related music community of Singapore through outreach, education and resource support for community events. Through her work with WLJ SG, Aya has received a personal invite in 2019 by the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz to present as guest-panelist about her organisation at the International Jazz Day Global Host Celebration 2020 held in Melbourne, Australia. Sekine’s efforts were celebrated and announced at the All-Star Global Concert by the UNESCO Goodwill ambassador Herbie Hancock for being ‘Heart and Soul’ of International Jazz Day.
Since 2018, Aya has been making physical & digital drawings as a mental and emotional response to the lack of performing spaces for musicians in Singapore. The drawings created are abstract, comical and off-beat, with geometric figures accentuating typography on daily objects. The colours she applies are bright and whimsical, a contrast to the meaning of the text elements. She was one of nine selected artists presenting immersive and sensorial artistic work at SeptFest 2020 Fringe, a festival celebrating 30th anniversary of Singapore's Substation, first independent home of the arts. You can find her artwork on the cover of recent album All Things Bright of world acclaimed American saxophonist John Ellis.