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| Catherine Johnson | News

River Stone Jazz – RACC April 2024 Member of the Month

River Stone Jazz is being recognized as April 2024 Ridgway Area Chamber of Commerce Member of the Month. The Member of the Month program is an ongoing effort by the Chamber to provide the community and visitors with information about businesses and organizations in the area and promote patronage of our local resources and small, independent companies.

Book River Stone Jazz at your event! Send an email to . To learn more about the musician, go online to

    Who is the owner of River Stone Jazz and what is their background?

    Yasuo “Yaz” Ishikawa founded River Stone Jazz in 2013, when he released his first CD, “The G.K. Story,” with a compilation of originals written by him and his saxophone mentor, George L. Keith. He performed at that time with The Sobo Four quartet in the Denver area. Shortly after he moved to Ridgway in 2014, the band released “Resurrection,” another CD of originals by Yasuo and George.

    Why did you decide to specialize in jazz?

    Yasuo moved from Japan to Colorado in 1994, inspired by a Boulder Pearl Street Mall legendary saxophone busker named Lucky. Soon, he was introduced to George, another Colorado saxophone icon whose childhood home in Denver was a stopover for traveling performers such as Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, and Duke Ellington. Keith became a professional saxophonist and music theory expert, who played with Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and other jazz greats. Yaz adopted George as not only a teacher but a father. Yasuo enjoys the challenge and creativity of jazz improvisation, which allows him to play for hours a day without ever getting bored.

    Where do you perform?

    Yaz hasn’t found a regular group to perform with in the Ridgway area, so he mostly performs solo (with digital musical accompaniment) or as a duo with Telluride jazz pianist Kenny Goldman. They perform outside in Mountain Village, at restaurants and hotel lobbies, and at private events and public festivals like the Ridgway Rendezvous. Yaz and Kenny also perform with Little Giant, a local world music jam band, when they have enough musicians to do gigs.

    When is your next gig?

    The only booking is a wedding at the end of May. We expect to start booking some summer dates in the next month or so, but our schedule is wide open at the moment. So, please contact Yaz to plan a performance.

    What have been some successes and challenges for your business in this community?

    Yaz has been thankful to the many local organizations like Weehawken Creative Arts that have booked him to play year after year. However, it can be a challenge to find enough gigs to support him locally, especially from January through April. It’s also challenging to find other traditional jazz musicians who have time to practice and perform regularly.

    What do you value from being a Ridgway Chamber member?

    Yaz doesn’t do very much marketing on his own, so it’s always nice to have exposure through the Ridgway Chamber and FUSE. He appreciates the volunteers and small staff who really care about the business and nonprofit communities.

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