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Taeko Kunishima

"I was born in Japan and studied classical piano performance at university. When I heard Miles Davis on the radio, I switched to jazz.

I had a long absence from musical activity while living in the Middle East, and shortly after, in my youth. By experiencing different cultures and listening to Japanese, classical, jazz and  Arabic music I was inspired to write my own diverse compositions ." —Taeko Kunishima (June 2022)

Kunishima has released five albums on 33 jazz records and been played on  BBC Radio 3 Late Junction, Jazz FM, BBC World, and Resonance FM.

The Taeko Kunishima Band (with developing line ups) has had performances at: Isle of Wight International Jazz Festival, London EFG Jazz Festival and The Vortex jazz club.

She has collaborated with shakuhachi player Clive Bell since 2006, Paul Moylan, the double bass player since 2011. In January, June, July 2008 she played across Germany backed by American drummer David Bowler from the Ahmad Jamal Trio.

James Nadal from All About Jazz chose the last album; Iridescent Clouds as one of his best albums in the 2016 All About Jazz review.

Taeko Kunishima will have released five albums on 33jazz records by June this year.

Taeko Kunishima debut album as bandleader was Space to Be. After the release of this album, the band performed at the Isle of Wight Jazz Diva Festival in 2005.

The second album, Red Dragonfly came out in 2006. The band received a warm reception at live performances including the Isle of Wight International Jazz Festival and The Vortex jazz club. In Autumn 2006 she completed a UK tour with the help of Jazz Services.

Taeko Kunishima's third album Late Autumn, with a new line up, was released in 2011. 'Intriguing compositions diverse instrumentation... the perfect storm of repertoire, arrangements and players ' Lawrence Peryer, All About Jazz. 'Imaginative, unexpectedly varied, powerful but sensitive music from a pianist who should be much better known'  Chris Parker, London Jazz.

In January, June, July 2008 she played across Germany backed by American drummer David Bowler from the Ahmad Jamal Trio.

 In 2016, she released Iridescent Clouds with the same line up as the previous album, which James Nadal from All About Jazz chose as one of his best albums in the 2016 All About Jazz annual review.

She released Dictionary Land on 33jazz records in June 2022.


Album Review

Taeko Kunishima: Dictionary Land

Read "Dictionary Land" reviewed by Karl Ackermann

Known for her lyrical piano style, Japanese musician and composer Taeko Kunishima has her roots in classical music. While studying at university, she heard Miles Davis on the radio and the impact was life-altering. Kunishima was not content with simply adapting to Western jazz; her interests are far broader and have led her to Dictionary Land. The album is the culmination of influences which range from jazz to her native folklore, and Arabic music. Dictionary Land is Kunishima's ...

Album Review

Taeko Kunishima: Iridescent Clouds

Read "Iridescent Clouds" reviewed by James Nadal

There is an atmospheric element which Japanese musicians inherently weave throughout their compositions, giving their music a singular dimension which is readily identifiable. Acknowledged for her trademark lyricism, pianist Taeko Kunishima reflects upon the wonders of nature on Iridescent Clouds, offering elegant improvised passages encased in a meditative concept. Accompanied again by Clive Bell, recognized master of the shakuhachi flute, and secured by the steady bass of Paul Moylan, the ensemble is augmented by percussionist Camilo Tirado. Additional ...

Take Five With...

Take Five With Taeko Kunishima

Read "Take Five With Taeko Kunishima" reviewed by Taeko Kunishima

Meet Taeko Kunishima: Taeko Kunishima started playing piano at seven. Particularly taken by Mozart and Beethoven, she later studied classical piano performance at university. On hearing Miles Davis for the first time, her direction changed, leading her to explore the music of many different jazz artists, and to develop her own improvisatory technique whilst studying jazz harmony.Since moving to England, she has continued to evolve and develop her startling, angular contemporary jazz approach, echoing Thelonious Monk ...

Album Review

Taeko Kunishima: Late Autumn

Read "Late Autumn" reviewed by Lewis J Whittington

Taeko Kunishima's Late Autumn starts with a wandering solo entrance that engages the composer/pianist's stream of jazz style. It instantly feels both musically liberated and firmly rooted in multi-era reverence. This prologue, “To the Hebrides," open an otherwise freewheeling narrative by Kunishima and her dazzling lineup.After the opening track the set ignites with the seven-minute scorcher, “Return To Life." Inside of its retro-progressive ascensions, shakuhachi virtuoso Clive Bell evokes a Japanese classicism which then vanishes, jarring the imagination. ...

Album Review

Taeko Kunishima: Late Autumn

Read "Late Autumn" reviewed by Lawrence Peryer

Pianist Taeko Kunishima's third record, Late Autumn, is an exciting work full of intriguing compositions, diverse instrumentation and top-notch performances. Any one or two of these attributes, as manifested on this album, would be enough to carry the day, but the presence of all three makes for a must-hear release. Kunishima's compositional skill is substantial, and it is a missed opportunity to listen to these pieces in only a casual way. The songs veer from moments of ...

Album Review

Taeko Kunishima: Red Dragonfly

Read "Red Dragonfly" reviewed by Nic Jones

Taeko Kunishima and her quartet have largely managed to avoid a lot of the well-covered ground in the modern mainstream area, and in so doing she's carved out an identity for herself both as a composer and a piano improviser--while the group, admirably suited to the subtle, implied demands of her music, has succeeded in carving out an identity distinctly its own.

Kunishima has utilised her Japanese heritage in her music, and the presence of Clive Bell on shakuhachi on ...

Album Review

Taeko Kunishima: Red Dragonfly

Read "Red Dragonfly" reviewed by Dan McClenaghan

You always hear about the “sophomore jinx," referring to an artist's difficulty in coming up with a second recording that at least matches, and hopefully surpasses, his or her debut. That's seems more a problem in popular music, where the talent pool is considerably shallower than in the jazz world.Japanese-born and now London-based pianist Taeko Kunishima suffers no sophomore jinx on her second outing, Red Dragonfly. Her debut, Space to Be... (33 Jazz, 2004), was an auspicious beginning ...

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Taeko Kunishima’s third album finds the pianist (born in Shizuoka, Japan, now based in London) in a mood both lyrical and risk-taking. These nine original compositions fully display Taeko’s way with a melody, but this is jazz with a thoroughly contemporary sound. Opener “To The Hebrides” is a meditative piano solo, quickly followed by the driving riff of “Return To Life”: Paul Moylan’s powerful double bass and Max Hallett’s shoot-from-the-hip drums are united in urgency. Sean Corby’s eloquent trumpet switches from au naturel to electronic psychedelia, while Clive Bell’s shakuhachi flute brings a lurking samurai menace to “Spring Rain” and “Dusk”

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Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Late Autumn

33 Jazz


Space to Be...

Unknown label


Red Dragonfly

Unknown label


Return to Life

From: Late Autumn
By Taeko Kunishima

Cold Winter

From: Red Dragonfly
By Taeko Kunishima

Itsuki no Komoriuta

From: Space to Be...
By Taeko Kunishima



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