National Cherry Blossom Festival Japanese Jazz Series
Discover emerging Japanese jazz artists as part of the
National Cherry Blossom Festival
The Japanese Jazz Series was created to promote the bilateral relationship between the U.S.A and Japan, and to enhance understanding of Japanese modern culture in the U.S.A. through the presentation of Japanese Jazz music by Japanese and American young artists, on the occasion of the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival.
All events take place at Blues Alley
1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20007
Shows at 8 & 10PM
Pianist Manami Morita was born in Saitama, Japan in 1984. She started off learning classical piano at the age of 4. Unfortunately, she hated piano lessons, because she couldn’t stand all the rules in classical piano. On the other hand, she loved playing as she wanted and felt. At the age of 13, she met jazz. “Well, THIS IS AWESOME, I CAN DO WHATEVER I WANT!!” she proclaimed.
Manami graduated from Berklee in 2008 and released her first album Colors in 2009, her second album For You in 2010 and her third album When Skies are Grey in 2012 through Rambling Records, Inc. Currently, she is based in New York City. Playing in the big city keeps her motivated to continue creating. She still does whatever she wants musically. That will never change.
Machiko began her musical studies playing the piano at the age of three and at the age of eight began studying the violin. Her first performance with the orchestra as a soloist is at Iino Hall in Tokyo with Tokyo New City Orchestra when she was 14 years old. She earned her Bachelor’s degree at the Tokyo National University of fine arts and Music (Tokyo-Gei-Dai) under Takashi Shimizu and Chikashi Tanaka. After graduation she studied with Yfrah Neaman at Guildhall Music School in London, where she received a diploma. She has received a Master’s degree at The Juilliard School, where she studied with Masao Kawasaki, Lewis Kaplan, and has been coached by Jonathan Feldman, Earl Carless, Eugene Becker, and Joseph Kalichstein.
Although trained classically, Machiko now extends her musical range to a variety of music styles including jazz improvisation, world music and computer music. As a founding member of JUSTADUO, Pablo Quartet and M2duo (formally-M2O), she frequently performs at the major venues in the US and Japan.
A native of Hiroshima, Japan, Takeshi Ohbayashi began playing piano at the age of two. Ohbayashi went on to study film scoring and composition at Tokyo College of Music, but it was not until he attended a jazz piano clinic during his freshman year, that he found his calling to jazz. He was awarded a scholarship to the renowned Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he began his studies in 2007.
Ohbayashi graduated from Berklee in 2011 and currently resides in New York City where he leads his own group. His debut album, Introducing Takeshi Ohbayashi was released in September 2011.
Chihiro Yamanaka’s latest CD, Forever Begins (Verve) was released in Japan in 2010, where it went to #1 on several jazz charts. Based in New York City, she leads the Chihiro Yamanaka Trio, which has featured some of the finest talent in jazz, including bassists Larry Grenadier and Bob Hurst and drummers Jeff “Tain” Watts and Jeff Ballard.
Chihiro’s impact on the international jazz scene was uncannily foreshadowed by the successes she had while still in college, first at the Royal Academy of Music in England and then at the Berklee School of Music in Boston, where she won Down Beat’s Outstanding Performance Award and was honored by the International Association of Jazz Educators with her victory in the prestigious “Sisters In Jazz” competition in 2000.