JazzSet with Dee Dee Bridgewater

Jane Bunnett And Chihiro Yamanaka On JazzSet

Jane Bunnett And Chihiro Yamanaka On JazzSet

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/157781745/295259782" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Chihiro Yamanaka and Jane Bunnett come to the Kennedy Center from Japan and Canada, respectively, and each has a compelling story.

Jane Bunnett is from Toronto, yet for more than 30 years, she's championed Cuban music and musicians. She's made dozens of trips to the island, studying and working, bringing instruments to schoolchildren, and inviting players to return to Canada with her and her husband, trumpeter Larry Cramer.

In 1991, Cuban pianist Hilario Duran joined Bunnett's band for Spirits of Havana. Duran already had a high profile in Cuba. He had replaced Chucho Valdes in the Orquesta Cubana de Música Moderna, toured with trumpeter Arturo Sandoval for a decade, and co-led Grupo Prospectiva. In 1998, Duran moved to Toronto, where he's currently a professor in the thriving jazz department at Humber College.

Bunnett (on flute and soprano) and Duran invite a Cuban-born guest to join them. He's a 91-year-old NEA Jazz Master. In the 1950s, conguero Candido Camero made his first U.S. recording, "Mambo Inn," with the Billy Taylor Trio. Candido knows a thing or two about show business. Making their entrances together, he tickled Jane Bunnett with the line, "As Jackie Gleason says, 'Here we go!'"

Bunnett and Duran have an album out called Cuban Rhapsody.

Both Yamanaka and her drummer, John Davis, are alumni of Betty Carter's Jazz Ahead training for young musicians at the Kennedy Center, and Yamanaka has performed here with the big band Diva as well. She's someone to see.

In JazzTimes, Giovanni Russonello reviewed Yamanaka's performance at the Umbria Jazz Festival in Italy: "Opening for the Tribute to Miles band with her trio, the Japanese pianist tore into two originals at the top of her set. Right and left, jaws were dropping." As Bridgewater says from the stage at the end of Yamanaka's set, "I was sitting on the side and just watching how she combines her classical technique with the jazz, and I thought she was going to fly off the stool, didn't you? I've never seen such footwork."

Yamanaka centers her set on an original piece for the people of Fukushima, Japan, where she grew up. Fukushima was the site of the devastating earthquake and tsunami in 2011. Yamanaka's composition, "It Was a Beautiful Eight Minutes of My Life," begins quietly and builds disquietingly; it will move you. Yamanaka's album, Reminiscence, won the Nissan Presents Jazz Japan Award in 2011.

Chihiro Yamanaka Personnel
  • Chihiro Yamanaka, piano
  • Yoshi Waki, bass
  • John Davis, drums
Chihiro Yamanaka Set List
  • "Take Five" (Paul Desmond)
  • "It Was A Beautiful Eight Minutes Of My Life" (Yamanaka)
  • "Close To You" (Burt Bacharach)
Jane Bunnett Set List
  • "Almendra/Almonds"
  • "Rosa Mae" (Mary Lou Williams, on-the-spot arrangement)
  • "Sherezada" (Frank Emilio)
  • "Conga Jam"
[+] read more[-] less

More From Jazz

Grover Washington, Jr. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the artist

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

Grover Washington, Jr. On Piano Jazz

The Grammy-winning saxophonist plays Duke Ellington standards with host Marian McPartland in 1994.

Grover Washington, Jr. On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/504956273/504956800" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Meredith D'Ambrosio appears on the cover of her 1981 album Another Time. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the artist

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

Meredith D'Ambrosio On Piano Jazz

The vocalist, pianist, visual artist and teacher joined Marian McPartland in 1994.

Meredith D'Ambrosio On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/504133599/504135813" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Lonnie Liston Smith on the cover of Astral Traveling (1973). Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the artist

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

Lonnie Liston Smith On Piano Jazz

One of contemporary music's most versatile keyboardists, Smith joined Marian McPartland in 2002.

Lonnie Liston Smith In The Studio

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/503335536/503336370" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Nellie Lutcher. William P. Gottlieb/Library of Congress hide caption

toggle caption William P. Gottlieb/Library of Congress

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

Nellie Lutcher On Piano Jazz

Hear the vocalist and pianist play her original tunes "Hurry On Down" and "Real Gone Guy."

Nellie Lutcher On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/502487319/502603441" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Richard "Dick" Sudhalter appears on the cover of The Classic Jazz Quartet: The Complete Recordings. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the artist

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

Richard Sudhalter On Piano Jazz

The cornetist and critic performs "Chasing Shadows" with Marian McPartland in a 1992 session.

Richard Sudhalter On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/501714165/501719238" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Billy Strayhorn (right), spent the majority of his career as a composer and arranger for Duke Ellington (left) and his orchestra. David Redfern/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption David Redfern/Getty Images

Jazz Night In America

The Lush Life Of Billy Strayhorn

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

He was remarkable not only for his music, but for living as an openly gay black man in the '40s.

The Lush Life Of Billy Strayhorn

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/500504682/500512491" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Jackie Cain and Roy Kral at the Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society in Half Moon Bay, Calif., in 1982. Brian McMillen/Wikimedia Commons hide caption

toggle caption Brian McMillen/Wikimedia Commons

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

Jackie And Roy On Piano Jazz

Hear the husband-and-wife duo join Marian McPartland for a trio version of "Joy Spring."

Jackie And Roy On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/497936484/497939089" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Oliver Jones. Michael Slobodian/Michael Slobodian hide caption

toggle caption Michael Slobodian/Michael Slobodian

Jazz Night In America

Oliver Jones: A Canadian Jazz Legend Heads Home

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

In Canada, jazz pianist Oliver Jones is a hero, adored in his native Quebec and across the country.

Oliver Jones: A Canadian Jazz Legend Heads Home

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/497793760/497806357" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Chucho Valdés. Elmer Martinez/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Elmer Martinez/AFP/Getty Images

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

Chucho Valdés On Piano Jazz

Hear the innovator in Latin jazz play his original compositions "Claudia" and "Mambo Influenciado."

Chucho Valdés On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/496891193/497008290" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Back To Top