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Riyoko Takagi (高木 里代子, Takagi Riyoko) is a Japanese Jazz pianist and composer who isn't bound by a single genre or style and has crossed classical, pop, house, and anime genre boundaries and styles in her compositions, arrangements, and performances. She's renowned for her musicality, deep harmonic understanding, live performances full of energy with fluent improvisations that often involve audience, and delicate touch on the keys. Together with her talent and charming character she continues to proliferate Jazz and attract many fans from all over the world.
Riyoko Takagi was born in Tokyo, Japan. Her mother was an aspiring classical pianist. She started taking piano lessons in her neighborhood at the age of 4. Shortly after she acclimated to piano, her piano teacher advised that she should learn composing music rather than just continuing to play according to the score.
She enrolled into a specialized children's program at Yamaha Music School, where she studied classical piano and composition. At Yamaha she had her first piano recital at age 7 and her first televised piano performance of original composition at age 12 as part of annual Yamaha Original Junior Concert. She continued her studies at Yamaha until third year of junior high school.
At the age of 17 she started seriously focusing on jazz music for the first time. Instead of focusing on jazz music theory she started focusing on practical aspects of improvisation, studying from live albums of artists like Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett. Over decades that followed, she developed a very strong foundation in the art of improvisation, which to this day remains a very unique and appealing centerpiece of her live performance style, including impromptu improvisations based on random sound input from the audience or surroundings (i.e. a siren of an ambulance that happened to pass by).
All her family graduated from Keio University, so she enrolled to Keio University SFC to study creative use of computers wanting to focus on music but the program turned out not what she expected. She did not study music in college and graduated in 2007 as Keio University alumni of Environment and Information Studies. While attending Keio University, she started playing jazz in local piano lounges and bars, which remained her main activity that she continued throughout her career, even while doing other stints outside of authentic jazz music.