Mai Sugimoto is a saxophonist, composer, and active member of Chicago’s jazz and improvisational music scene. “A compelling performer” with “dry-champagne tone and lyrical lines” (Chicago Tribune), Sugimoto draws inspiration from her upbringing in Japan and her roots in jazz to compose and perform from her unique multicultural experience. Born/Raised, her debut album (Asian Improv Records, 2018), explores this cultural and musical binary, juxtaposing, among others, a jazz rendition of a Japanese children’s song alongside compositions inspired by the American jazz idiom. Sugimoto is also a core member of the quartet Hanami, whose two albums similarly mix Japanese culture into creative music. Mai has performed three times at the Chicago Jazz Festival: in 2015 with Hanami, in 2019 as a leader, and in 2018 with renowned bassist Tatsu Aoki, with whom she frequently plays, including appearances in his Fred Anderson Legacy Band.