On April 16, the NAKANAKA Japanese Arts and Culture series @ DROM is presenting Different Keys: Japanese Women Pianists, celebrating two Japanese women who have become institutions on the New York jazz scene, Eri Yamamoto and Haruko Nara Yoshizawa. Also performing will be legendary jazz guitarist Yoshiaki Masuo, once a long time member of Sonny Rollins’ band and Kaoru Watanabe (Japanese and Western flutes and taiko drum.) An exhibition entitled, George Hirose: Night Photos from Kyoto and the Lower East Side will be on view as well.
Eri Yamamoto (piano)
Born in Osaka, Japan, Ms. Yamamoto’s Trio have had a regular gig at Arthur’s Tavern, a historic jazz club in New York’s Greenwich Village since 2000. She recently appeared on two William Parker recordings and has worked with Ron McClure, Andy McKee, Lewis Barns, Rob Brown, Leena Conquest, Butch Morris, Arthur Kell, Kevin Tkacs, Whit Dicky, Christopher Dean Sullivan and Michael T. A. Thompson.
Haruko Nara Yoshizawa (piano)
Over the years, the Japanese native has shared the stage with Frank Wess, Kenny Garrett, Billy Higgins, Ben Riley, Eddie Henderson, Carl Allen, Dennis Irwin, Michael Formanek, Nana Vasconselos, Ralph Moor,Yoshiaki Masuo, Dennis Charles, Tommy Campbell, John Blake, Kevin Eubanks, Jamil Nasser, Buddy Williams, William Parker, Yoshio Chin Suzuki, and Wallace Roney. She has played as a member of Kenny Garrett, Major Holley, Billy Hart, and Kiyoto Fujiwara’s group, and has accompanied vocalists Shoko Amano and Marion Cowings.
Yoshiaki Masuo (guitar)
Born in Tokyo, Japan, Masuo started his professional career performing with Sadao Watanabe’s group while still in college. He has been voted number one guitarist in the readers’ poll of Swing Journal, Japan’s most popular jazz magazine five different times. Masuo moved to New York City in 1971 where he played and recorded with Teruo Nakamura, Lenny White, Michael Brecker, Chick Korea, drummer Elvin Jones, Ashford and Simpson, Lee Konitz and Sonny Rollins. In the mid 80s, Masuo acquired his own studio in SoHo in NYC, and produced dozens of albums over the next ten years. Life is Good, his latest release in August, 2008, is on is newly set-up Sunshine Ave. label.
Kaoru Watanabe (Japanese and Western flutes and taiko drum)
Although Kaoru Watanabe is a conservatory trained classical and jazz flute player (Mahattan School of Music BA ’98) who has worked with such musicians as Jason Moran and Stefon Harris, his approach to music underwent fundamental change while living in Japan, studying and performing with the acclaimed taiko ensemble Kodo and with various master practitioners of traditional and modern Japanese arts including the great Kabuki actor Tamasaburo, calligrapher Koji Kakinuma and koto player Yagi Michiyo. Kaoru has also acted as artistic director of Kodo’s World music festival, Earth Celebration, working with such luminaries as Zakir Hussain, Giovanni Hildago and Carlos Nunez. Kaoru left Kodo in 2006 and currently resides in NY where he established the Kaoru Watanabe Taiko Center.
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Lia Chang is an actor, performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multimedia journalist.
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