An espresso with…
Chihiro Yamanaka

April 4, 2018

Monk Studies

We have met the Japanese pianist Chihiro Yamanaka, who will perform on April 19 for the European premiere of the 2018 Tour. The show will be held at Rome’s Officina delle Arti Pier Paolo Pasolini, a cultural hub managed by the Government of the Latium Region. The artist will present her last album dedicated to Thelonious Monk.

Why did you decide to record a tribute to Thelonious Monk?
Monk is one of the greatest geniuses of 20th century music and of jazz in general, he is one of my mentors, together with Coltrane and Oscar Peterson, I simply adore him. I recorded 15 albums for Verve and Blue Note, all featuring my compositions and a few standards. I write a lot and I release two records per year. I decided to dedicate an album to Monk’s compositions with my vision after I had been studying his music for many years… it’s so infinite and complex. That’s why I titled the album Monk Studies.
How did you choose the musicians for this tour?
I usually play and record with Afro-American rhythmic sections (Kendrick Scott, Damein Reid, John Davis, Vincent Archer, etc.) In Europe I decide together with my European manager (Mario Berna), the rhythm session for the tour; I often play with English, Italian or French musicians, all excellent; during this show I will play with the virtuous Karen Teperberg from Tel Aviv, with whom I recorded The Spheres, and the young double bassist Ilaria Capalbio, from Stockholm’s Royal College of Music; I heard her playing last year and I liked her a lot.
Do you think that you will record again an album dedicated to an historical jazz composer?
I don’t think so, at the moment I’m mixing my new album at New York’s Sterling Studio with Greg Talbi; it will be released in May by Blue Note, and it was recorded in quintet.
What’s the jazz situation in Asia like? Is it becoming more popular?
In Japan, jazz has always had many followers, since the 1920’s, with many American musicians performing in Tokyo, Osaka, Kobe, etc. Then, this music was forbidden and it had a new boom since the 1950’s. There are live shows recorded in Tokyo by very important artists such as Keith Jarrett, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, and there are a lot of Japanese musicians playing great jazz! In Shanghai, Hong Kong and other Asian cities there are very important jazz festivals. In Japan, moreover, Brazilian music and Italian music are very popular, as well!
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