• Jane Bunnett (left) and Candido perform at the Kennedy Center during the Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival.
    Hide caption
    Jane Bunnett (left) and Candido perform at the Kennedy Center during the Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival.
    Margot Schulman/Courtesy of the Kennedy Center
  • Chihiro Yamanaka performs at the Kennedy Center during the Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival.
    Hide caption
    Chihiro Yamanaka performs at the Kennedy Center during the Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival.
    Margot Schulman/Courtesy of the Kennedy Center

1 of 2

View slideshow i

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

Don Cheadle stars as Miles Davis in the film Miles Ahead. Sony Pictures Classics hide caption

toggle caption Sony Pictures Classics

Jazz Night In America

Three Miles Ahead

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

On screen, ink, and stage with actor Don Cheadle, writer Quincy Troupe and trumpeter Keyon Harrold.

Three Miles Ahead

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/491558852/491559806" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Cecile McLorin Salvant and Sullivan Fortner. Mark Fitton/Philippe Levy-Stab/Courtesy of the artists hide caption

toggle caption Mark Fitton/Philippe Levy-Stab/Courtesy of the artists

Jazz Night In America

Cecile McLorin Salvant And Sullivan Fortner

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

Two rising stars of their instruments duet at Jazz at Lincoln Center.

Cecile McLorin Salvant And Sullivan Fortner

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/491556926/491558723" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Norah Jones. Larry Busacca/Getty Images for NARAS hide caption

toggle caption Larry Busacca/Getty Images for NARAS

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

Norah Jones On Piano Jazz

The smoky-voiced singer reinvents standards like "The Nearness Of You" in a 2003 session.

Marian McPartland In The Studio

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/491481080/491483313" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Marty Napoleon. Wikimedia Commons hide caption

toggle caption Wikimedia Commons

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

Marty Napoleon On Piano Jazz

Hear the pianist, who once played with Louis Armstrong's All Stars, duet with Marian McPartland.

Marty Napoleon In The Studio

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/490624621/490631097" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

David Sánchez. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the artist

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

David Sánchez On Piano Jazz

The cosmopolitan saxophonist and his rhythm section join Marian McPartland for a set of standards.

David Sanchez In The Studio

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/489759939/489765697" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Cover art to The Great Kai and J.J., 1960. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the artist

Jazz Night In America

The Eminence Of J.J. Johnson, And His Partnership With Kai Winding

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

Trombonist Vincent Gardner takes on the music of his instrument's bebop pioneer.

The Eminence Of J.J. Johnson, And His Partnership With Kai Winding

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/488851522/488851879" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Marilyn Crispell. Claire Stefani/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Claire Stefani/Courtesy of the artist

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

Marilyn Crispell On Piano Jazz

The pianist plays free jazz with an evocative and disciplined style.

Marilyn Crispell In The Studio

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/488725929/488823539" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Eric Reed. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the artist

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

Eric Reed On Piano Jazz

Hear the young pianist and composer give a solo performance of "Cedar's Blues" in a 1995 session.

Eric Reed In The Studio

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/487919012/487933490" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Jacky Terrasson. Philippe Levy-Stab/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Philippe Levy-Stab/Courtesy of the artist

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

Jacky Terrasson On Piano Jazz

Back in 1995, the young pianist demonstrated extraordinary talent on standards.

Jacky Terrasson On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/487065269/487071612" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Back To Top