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Water Stem – Hitomi Oba


Saxophonist and composer Hitomi Oba’s Water Stem is an uninhibited and joyful exploration of her unique improvisatory voice featuring relationships with cherished collaborators. Her first album on an American record label and her first solo release at the creative helm, Oba’s Water Stem includes duets with formative mentors Jon Jang and Roberto Miranda along with pieces composed for her quartet of Neelamjit Dhillon, Jake Leckie, and Shawn Baltazor. The spontaneous and mindful interplay between these musicians generates evocative sound-worlds of gesture, motion and texture. With her first album on Asian Improv Records, Oba is proud to join a rich legacy and community of artists dedicated to creative expression.

Tracks 1, 3, and 9 composed by Hitomi Oba
Track 2 composed by Duke Ellington
Tracks 4-7 and 14, composed by Hitomi Oba, Neelamjit Dhillon, Jake Leckie, and Shawn Baltazor
Tracks 8, 11, and 13 composed by Hitomi Oba and Jon Jang
Track 10 composed by Hitomi Oba and Roberto Miranda
Track 12 composed by Chen Gang and He Zhan Hao

Additional information






Hitomi Oba – Tenor Saxophone (all tracks)
Jon Jang – Piano (2, 8, 11-13)
Roberto Miranda – Bass (3, 10)
Neelamjit Dhillon – Tabla (1), Alto Saxophone
(5-7, 9, 14)
Jake Leckie – Bass (1, 4-7, 9, 14)
Shawn Baltazor – Drums (1, 4-7, 9, 14)


Executive Producer: Tatsu Aoki
Producers: Hitomi Oba and Nick DePinna
Project Management: Rika Lin
Engineers: by Stuart Schenk (1, 4-7, 9, and 14), Isabel Parrott (3 and 10), Eric Glauser (2, 8, and 11-13)
Mixing and Mastering: David Darlington
Recorded June-August 2022 at the Evelyn and Mo Ostin Recording Studio at UCLA and Hyde Street
Studios in San Francisco
Album Artwork: Hitomi Oba
Photography: Erich Chen
Album Design: Al Brandtner, Brandtner Design
Special Thanks: UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, Masanori and Hisako Oba, James Newton Jr., Francis
Wong, and Vinay Patel.


1. Mizukuki (9:51)
2. Come Sunday (5:30)
3. Kagayaku Ima (6:02)
4. Impromptu Suite: Part 1 (2:54)
5. Impromptu Suite: Part 2 (1:42)
6. Impromptu Suite: Part 3 (2:13)
7. Impromptu Suite: Part 4 (2:58)
8. And We’ll Say It Again (5:18)
9. Power to the People: Murmuration and Flight
10. A Welcoming Space (4:44)
11. The Grass Is in Full Bloom (3:39)
12. Butterfly Lovers Song (4:25)
13. Just Clouds Passing By (5:23)
14. Water Seeds (5:40)