jazz pianist, composer
Yuka Aikawa, pianist/composer, began playing piano at the age of five in her native Japan, and went on to earn a B.A. in piano performance at Kunitachi College of Music in Tokyo. In college, while studying classical piano with Yasuko Shinoi and Toyoko Kreutzer, a friend gave her some recordings by Oscar Peterson and Bill Evans. As soon as she listened to them, she became interested in jazz. Her love for jazz prompted a move to New York City, where she studied basic jazz theory for one year at the New School and then moved on to the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College, where she received her M.A. in jazz performance under the guidance of Sir Roland Hanna and Jimmy Heath. During this time, she received the prestigious Michael Feinstein Award for outstanding talent.
After Queens College, Yuka began performing her compositions in New York jazz clubs such as Birdland and Smalls, with Arnie Lawrence (alto sax), Patience Higgins (reeds), and other jazz heavyweights.
Her first CD, All Beings in the Whole Universe, was issued on the Japanese label, Paddle Wheel, by King Records in 1999, and she performed CD debut concerts with Benny Powell (trombone) and Newman T. Baker (drums) in Japan. In 2000, she toured from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Southampton, England, as a member of Jimmy Heath Kids, produced by Jimmy Heath, for the 18th Annual Floating Jazz Festival (QE2 jazz cruise), and was also featured at New York City's Blue Note for East Meets West, produced by Cobi Narita.
Her solo piano recording, Going Home (2003), has been featured on Yamaha Disklavier PianoSoft New York City Rising Star Series.
For fifteen years, Yuka has also been the accompanist for The Lance Hayward Singers, a vocal jazz ensemble whose repertoire ranges from Schubert to spirituals to Count Basie tunes and has performed with them on their CD, One More Time, on the Town Crier label (www.towncrierrecordings.com).
In 2011, Yuka and her husband, Atsundo Aikawa (bass), who has played as a member of Sir Roland Hanna trio featuring Helen Merrill (vocal) at Montreux Jazz Festival, performed for Sir Roland Hanna's tribute concert at Piano Museum, Catskill Mountains, NY.
Yuka is also a regular pianist for the Piano in Bryant Park series, which is one of the popular summer jazz events in New York City.
Yuka Aikawa currently resides in New York City and performs and tours in the U.S. and Japan.