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.