Shinobu Ito was born in Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. While a young boy, he was interested in American pop songs, so his father bought him a guitar and gave him lessons.
Shinobu devoted great efforts to his study of the guitar and eventually developed an ambition to become a noted guitarist in the future.
In junior high school, he organized his own pop music group and performed at various musical events.
He became interested in jazz guitar during his high school days when he heard Wes Montgomery.
While attending Tokai University, Shinobu studied with the respected guitar teacher, Ikuo Shiozaki, and became a member of the university’s Jazz Circle.
He also began his professional career at this time, performing at clubs and on recordings.
In 1975, Shinobu experienced a great culture shock socially and musically during a 6-month stay in Los Angeles.
During this period in L.A. Shinobu met Toshiko Akiyoshi, who introduced him to many musicians and strongly suggested to him that he go to New York to learn and play jazz on his next visit to the States.
When he returned to Japan in 1975, Shinobu joined vocalist Yoshiko Kimura’s group, and also resumed activities with top Japanese musicians such as Kohsuke Mine, Seiichi Nakamura, Shigeharu Mukai, Hidefumi Toki and Takao Uematsu.
He also had opportunities to play with Tete Montreux, Bill Reichenbach, Ronnie Foster, Stanley Banks and others.
Also in 1975, he was chosen as one of the most popular guitarists in Japan by Swing Journal magazine for the first time.
In keeping with his plan, Shinobu returned to the United States in 1977 and settled in New York City.
He became a member of a 10-piece band directed by Reggie Workman, which performed mainly at Brooklyn festivals.
He also joined Teruo Nakamura & his Rising Sun Band and became involved in various other musical activities mostly in the New York area.
Additionally, Shinobu appeared on pianist Tsuyoshi Yamamoto’s album P.S. I Love You. Some of the many musicians he played with at this time include: Joe Jones Jr., Sadik Hakim, John Orr, Tommy Turrentine, Bob Mintzer, Rickey Ford and Kenny Kirkland.
In 1980, he formed and recorded his own first fusion group with T.M. Stevens, Kyle Hicks and Gene Williams while continuing other musical activities. He would occasioally lead groups at jazz clubs such as the Blue Note, 55 Bar, the Angry Squire, Pat’s, etc., performing with musicians including Valery Ponomarev, Lonnie Plaxico, Eddie Henderson, Lonnie Smith, Jesse Davis, Kenny Davis and Jeff Williams, among others.
In 1989, Shinobu recorded with pianist Chris Defort’s 10-piece group which included Mike Formanek, Vincent Herring and Judy Niemack.
Shinobu released his first CD [Sailing Rolling](Crown Records/PAS-1009) in 1991 with Tom Harrell, Danny Gottlieb, Gary King, Mark Soskin and Dick Oates. This CD made the charts as one of the top ten best sellers in the contemporary jazz category in Japan, and was aired on many TV and FM stations for a lengthy period of time.
Shinobu subsequently joined tenor saxophonist Eric Wyatt’s group and has continued for many years to be active,
mainly in the Brooklyn music scene.
He has played with countless musicians who are also based in Brooklyn, such as Antonio Hart, Mark Shim, Alvester Garnett, Rodney Green, Lester Bowie, Kenyatta Beasley, Tim Perryman and others. He also co-produced and performed on Eric Wyatt’s debut CD [God Son] for King Records (KICJ-313) in 1997 with Dan Kostelnik, Al Foster, Rufus Reid, Guilherme Franco and Mark Soskin.
Shinobu’s live recording in 1991 at Roppongi Pit Inn in Tokyo was released in 2001 by PJL Japan
[One Life To Live] (JazzBank/MTCJ-1049) and it was hailed as a legendary recording in the history of Japanese Jazz-Fusion.
Shinobu’s next CD, on which he plays mostly acoustic guitar, was released in 2002 and is titled
[A Tribute to Baden Powell and Antonio Lauro] (JazzBank/MTCJ-1049).
Also in 2002, Shinobu performed at the Montreal Jazz Festival with renowned guitarist Ryo Kawasaki.
His new CD with Seiichi Nakamura, one of the great tenor saxophonists in Japan, was recorded in September 2004 and was released in August 2005 titled [Serenata] (JazzBank/MTCJ-1084).
Starting April 2005, Shinobu has been teaching at Senzoku Gakuen College of Music / Jazz Division in Japan.
Also he has been spending most of his time preparing for a new classical guitar duo recording in New York City by making frequent flights to Japan.
A new CD [Musica para Enamorados] has been released in 2006 from JAZZBANK/MTCJ-1095.
He has returned to New York City finally in March 2009 and resuming activities at some local venues with his original compositions.
His new CD CDS-1201 live recorded in 2006 is available now.