February 2021 will see Japanese pianist Yoko Miwa release a brand new album titled “Songs Of Joy” on Ubuntu Music. Miwa, currently a resident of Boston, has a long list of credits as a side-woman and as a leader. Miwa’s story of becoming a jazz musician is full of serendipity and happy twists of fate. In the late 1990s the classically-trained artist auditioned for Berklee College of Music on a lark and ended up winning a full scholarship. She arrived at the school from her homeland of Japan in 1997, intending to stay for a year. In 2019, she’s still in Boston, enriching the city’s musical life and serving as one of the most popular professors in the Berklee piano department.
Songs of Joy is her 9th release as a leader and features Miwa’s longstanding trio with bassist Will Slater and drummer Scott Goulding, along with a guest appearance by bassist Brad Barrett, another regular collaborator. The album combines songs that have provided solace and inspiration to Miwa with five original pieces composed as a means of escape from the lockdown routine.
Yoko Miwa has mastered the discipline, intricacy and dexterity of a classical pianist and combined this with the creativity, improvisational skill and flair of an accomplished jazz musician. Stylistically, this places her in a unique position, with each aspect of her varied talents complimenting and enhancing the other. This level of diversity is a rare gift that sets her apart from many contemporaries in her field.
Yoko’s outstanding characteristics have been recognised by no less an authority than legendary pianist Ahmad Jamal, one of Miwa’s idols. “At 90 years plus, I have known and heard most of the great pianists, [including] Art Tatum, Oscar Dennard, Phineas Newborn, Nat Cole, Dodo Marmarosa, Johnny Costa, Erroll Garner, and on and on,” Jamal says. “Not to mention the pianists performing the European Classical works that I have followed as well. In Pittsburgh where I was born, and where some of the aforementioned are also from, we had to study both American Classical Music as well as the European Classical forms. YokoMiwa is the result of both worlds. She is amazing and will continue to grow.”
Yoko Miwa’s journey in to jazz piano began with her meeting and studying with popular Japanese television organist and nightclub owner Minoru Ozone, subsequently working as an accompanist and piano instructor at his nightclub and music school (until the great Kobe earthquake of 1995 destroyed both facilities). Yoko continued to pursue her musical studies at the Koyo Conservatory in Kobe and from there won first prize in a scholarship competition to attend Berklee College Of Music.
Songs Of Joy is an enthralling body of work that will become an important release for the year ahead, providing a welcome reprieve from the challenges that we have all recently faced, with inspiration and hope for what is to come.
Release Date: 12 Feb 2021
Format: CD | Digital
Label: Ubuntu Music
New Release Spotify Playlist
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Last modified: January 15, 2021