Primary Instrument: Piano
Katsuko Tanaka (Pianist, Composer)
Katsuko Tanaka discovered her passion for music at an early age. At three years old, she was already taking sight-reading and ear-training lessons at the Yamaha School of Music in Osaka, Japan. Her precocious talent was noticed, and in the nineties, she was invited to play with the Japanese jazz- fusion group Doppo & Azoth for the Japan Expo held in California. That experience ignited her desire to return to the U.S. She continued to study classical piano at the Osaka College of Music, and hoped for an opportunity to live in the States.
That chance came as a Rotary International Foundation full scholarship to study Classical Piano Performance at California State University, Long Beach. At CSULB, her virtuosity garnered many accolades, including the Jean Louise Boggess Scholarship; the Mary E. Israel Scholarship; State Paid Lessons; and several others. However, to her surprise and delight, she was more excited to submerge herself in American jazz outside of the university. Being inspired by live jazz, she went to listen to it almost every night. At last she realized that her future lay in jazz, and began to study privately with Kei Akagi, Cecilia Coleman, Brad Mehldau, Senator Eugene Wright, and others. After earning her B.A. from CSULB, she returned to Japan and played professionally in Tokyo and Osaka. She wrote original songs and led her groups, Katsuko Tanaka Trio and Katsuko Tanaka Quintet.
After years in the Japanese jazz scene, Katsuko felt that to really understand Jazz, she must be immersed in the culture that created it. She must have direct access to the musicians who have inherited the tradition and even to the pioneering Masters themselves still alive today. New York is the right place for this unique, highly-prized education, and also to understand the vibe and influences of Jazz's next generation. So in 2008 she moved to New York. Katsuko immediately began performing at various venues including The Brooklyn Museum, The Bronx Museum, The Studio Museum in Harlem, The Dwyer Cultural Center, Steinway & Sons, Bowery Mission, and for HITN Cable network. These performances showcased her broad range: jazz, afro- latin soul with the keyboards, contemporary gospel, traditional gospel, and tap dance accompaniment. In the intense competitiveness of New York, she has been pushed to be a better musician and composer everyday. She earned an M.A. in Jazz Piano Performance from Queens College, and reassembled her trio in New York City; and in less than two years since she submerged herself into this competitive scene, she recorded her debut album Beyond Intersection with Danton Boller on bass, Willie Jones III on drums, and special guest Antonio Hart on alto saxophone. The CD features her original compositions, and is released in May 2010. [end]
Awards:Rotary International Foundation Ambassador
The album features five of her original songs. Wheatland and After the Morning are her humble attempts to honor the memory of great jazz pianists Oscar Peterson and John Hicks.
“I feel very fortune that a life has been breathed into each of my original songs on this album with the collaboration of musically most important people in my life. As I resided different cities (Osaka, Tokyo, Los Angeles, and New York), I had to detach my closest people from my daily life many times. My best friend told me that a life is like a path: we meet each other as paths cross. So, I am expressing an intersection as the time we meet and share in our lives and also my hope - all the paths be prosperous in their own best way. I think if we are lucky, maybe sometime in the future those paths cross again. Danton and Willie are my old friends from California. I recently met Antonio at the school where I finished my Master course in New York. Thus, this team performance exactly represents the fortune of my life, and is the documentation of my first phase of my life as a jazz pianist. “
The album is released in the United States in May and is available at the CD Baby: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/KatsukoTanakaTrio
Its Japanese Edition, with the cooperation of Disk Union Jazz, is marketed in Japan on June 30th, 2010.