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Chihiro Yamanaka Trio At Kuumbwa Jazz In Santa Cruz, Yoshi's San Francisco, April 11 & 13


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The Chihiro Yamanaka Trio will perform April 11 at Kuumbwa Jazz Center in Santa Cruz, CA and April 13 at Yoshi’s San Francisco.

The trio, led by jazz pianist, composer and arranger Chihiro Yamanaka, a Universal Music/Blue Note Records artist, features bassist Yasushi Nakamura and drummer Mark Whitfield Jr..

The concerts are part of a west coast tour that also includes April 9 at Dizzy’s in San Diego and April 10 at the Blue Whale in Los Angeles. This is the New York-based trio’s third trip to California in two years, featuring Ms. Yamanaka’s 3rd appearance at Yoshi’s and 2nd appearance at Kuumbwa Jazz.

Kuumbwa Jazz Center is at 320-2 Cedar St. in Santa Cruz. Tickets are $20 in advance or $25 at the door. Advance tickets can be purchased via the venue’s website or by calling (831) 427-2227. Ms. Yamanaka’s concert begins at 7:00 PM.

Yoshi’s is at 1330 Fillmore St. at Eddy St. in San Francisco. Tickets are $20 in advance or $23 at the door. Tickets for the concert, which begins at 7:00 PM, can be purchased in advance via the Yoshi’s website or by calling (415) 655-5600.

Ms. Yamanaka’s music pivots between her strikingly original compositions and her unique arrangements in which she accomplishes the impressive feat of introducing the element of surprise into some of the most famous songs in the jazz repertoire, contemporary popular music, and even the works of classical composers.

Ms. Yamanaka takes this approach to yet another level with her Beatles tribute, the new CD Because, a groundbreaking disc that features some of the most creative re-workings of Beatles classics ever recorded. Along with the title track, “Because” (from Abbey Road), Ms. Yamanaka transforms such great songs as “Yesterday” and “Michelle” into glittering vistas of her musical imagination.

On another new CD, Molto Cantabile, Ms. Yamanaka applies her imaginative arranging techniques to create an amazing fusion of jazz and classical music, featuring her own compositions and her arrangements of great works by such composers as Beethoven, Mozart and Liszt.

In January, Universal Music celebrated the 75th anniversary of Blue Note Records by releasing a CD compiled by Ms. Yamanaka, My Favorite Blue Note, her own selection of classic Blue Note Records tracks by Monk, Blakey and many more great artists, with two new tracks by Ms. Yamanaka herself.

As a newly minted Blue Note recording artist, she appeared in the 75th anniversary celebration concert, “Blue Note Plays The Blue Note,” at the Blue Note Tokyo. Her relationship with Universal has flourished for several years, with her CDs released primarily on Universal/Verve until her recent switch to Universal’s famous Blue Note imprint.

In Japan, Ms. Yamanaka routinely sells out the most prestigious jazz clubs, tops the jazz charts with each of her Universal CDs, and as a classical pianist she has performed Gershwin’s “Rhapsody In Blue” with major symphony orchestras. She has become a multimedia celebrity in Japan, hosting her own radio show, making TV appearances, and authoring a book, “The Landscape With Jazz.”

In JazzTimes Magazine, Giovanni Russonello wrote a glowing review of Ms. Yamanaka's set at the 2011 Umbria Jazz Festival opening for Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and Marcus Miller. “When she announced 'Take Five,' the crowd let out a gleeful 'ahh'—but they weren’t ready for the voracious re-harmonization, full of upward-creeping basslines and chromatic descents, or her mid-song interpolation of 'In Your Own Sweet Way,' retrofitted in 5/4 time. Right and left, jaws were dropping."

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