Shoko Nagai

SHOKO NAGAI - Biography

Pianist Accordionist Improviser Composer

Shoko Nagai is a versatile musical artist who improvises and performs with world-renowned musicians on piano and accordion and composes original scores for films and live performances. As a teenager in her native Japan, Nagai was trained on Yamaha's electronic organ, the “Electone,” to perform popular music. Since moving to the U.S. from Japan and studying classical and jazz music at Berklee, she has adapted her mastery of the keyboard to prepared piano, accordions, the melodica and other instruments, often inspired by the minimalist approach of composer Takemitsu Toru. Whether she is performing Klezmer, Balkan or experimental music, Nagai is a charismatic presence onstage, who hypnotizes audiences with her intense focus and virtuoso sound.

Since moving to New York in 1999 she has been dubbed an “MVP” of the downtown jazz scene, performing with John Zorn, Erik Friedlander, Ikue Mori, Marc Ribot, Frank London, Matana Roberts, Miho Hatori (Cibo Matto), Satoshi Takeishi, Butch Morris, Elliot Sharp, Isle of Klezbos, Sanda Weigl, and many eclectic performers. Nagai frequently tours internationally, performing in Sweden (2009 Nobel Prize ceremony for German writer, Herta Muller with Sanda Weigl), Italy (Napoli Teatro Festival 2015), Austria( Saalffelden Jazz Festival 2014), France ( Banlieues Bleues 2012), Switzerland (Rote Fabrik 2012), Holland (Bimhuis 2012), Japan (Fuji Rock Festival 2012), Israel (Romanian Institute 2011), Canada (Suoni Popolo Festival 2008), Germany ( Moers Jazz festival 2007), and Brazil (resfest 2007) and in the U.S. ( Newport Jazz Festival 2015, Saratoga Jazz Festival 2008). She has received grants from CMA (Chamber Music America) in 2021, NYFA ( New York Fine Arts) in 2010, JazzJants (Painted Bride Arts Center) in 2008.

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Album Review
Take Five With...
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Shoko Nagai’s Taken Shadows, recorded live at Roulette in Brooklyn, March 10, 2014, and released earlier this year features flittering sounds and shapes that seem to intermingle, expand rapidly, disappear, reappear, and so forth in an interesting panorama of sonic expressions. Nagai, bassist Stomu Takeishi, and drummer Jim Black take turns in grounding the music at the rhythmic core, while Nagai, in another form, Todd Reynolds (violin/electronics) and Jonathan Goldberger (guitar/effects) cut across the textured, multi-faceted, shifting underbelly. The music that emerges from this mix is eclectic, well-balanced, and driving

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Enna Records


Take'n Shadows

Animul Records



Self Produced



Unknown label



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