33-year old Japanese-born pianist Miki Yamanaka has called New York City home since 2012 and in the past decade has wasted no time establishing herself as one of the leading personalities of her generation on the piano and beyond. Critics laud her “light, expressive touch and solidly crafted, mainstream approach” - Mike Jurkovic (All About Jazz), while audiences delight in not only her playing, but her vibrant personality as well. Yamanaka has gained international recognition from her albums as a leader; her most recent and most intimate release, “Stairway to the Stars” (Outside In Music), features Jazz masters Mark Turner and Orlando le Fleming. Additionally, Miki has emerged as a leader of the “New York Scene” via her notable residencies at mainstay West Village sister clubs Smalls and Mezzrow. During the pandemic, she developed a successful in-home live-streaming weekly concert series cleverly titled “Miki’s Mood” where she features a veritable who’s who of NYC talent (including her husband and frequent collaborator - drummer Jimmy Macbride). The series showcases her vast knowledge of Jazz standards and tunes, often featuring themed offerings of various composers from both the Great American Songbook as well as iconic Jazz composers.
As a sideman, Yamanaka has worked with Jazz luminaries such as alto saxophonist Antonio Hart who posits “Miki will be recognized as one of the most exceptional artists of her generation, as she is already one of the most talented and dedicated musicians from Japan.” Other notable bands she currently works in include the Philip Harper Quintet and the Roxy Coss Quintet. One of her most respected mentors on piano and organ (Yamanaka also performs on organ frequently), Larry Goldings, once mused, “If only I could have Miki Yamanaka comp behind me!” - a compliment of the highest order from one master pianist to another. She has a myriad of glowing reviews from her recorded work and the iconic Downbeat Jazz magazine has repeatedly awarded her albums high marks.
On top of her exciting work as a bandleader in New York and abroad, Miki can often be found out and about most nights, where her infectious smile and gregarious nature engender fast friends in every audience she encounters. She has many hobbies, including cooking, knitting, and perhaps most visibly, her penchant for wearing her vast collection of kimonos on her gigs, proudly representing her heritage and culture night after night as she dazzles audiences around the world.