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Articles

One Fan At a Time (DownBeat Magazine, Sept 2017)

Seeing Miwa perform, Tiernan was impressed by her technical mastery and emotional honesty. Read More »


Yoko Miwa’s New Pathways (Color Magazine)

“I was in love,” Miwa said, remembering the first time the jazz bug bit her. “I could hear the freedom of expression in the music and it spoke to my soul. I knew immediately that it was a style of music I had to learn to play.” Read More »


Regattabar Showcase is Pianist Yoko Miwa’s Well-Earned Reward (Boston Globe)

“The new album, “Pathways,” is bright and accessible, largely composed of originals but augmented with selections by Joni Mitchell and the Beatles. Miwa’s technical chops are evident, yet she’s anything but showy; she prizes space in her sound, and leaves room for the deep interplay her group has honed over the years.” Read More »

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Reviews

Concert Review: Sheila Jordan with the Yoko Miwa Trio (ArtsFuse)

She has a firmly original style, rooted in classical training but demonstrating respect for Bill Evans, McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock, Dave Brubeck, Chick Corea, Jaki Byard, and even locked-hands master Milt Buckner. She never failed to turn a clever phrase in her solos, and she backed Jordan’s singing with just the right amount of personal comment. When she had a tune to herself, she chose admirably well – Charles Mingus’s “Boogie Stop Shuffle” is a challenging composition for a pianist to carry off without a team of horn players, since it has a driving ostinato bass figure topped by a complex melody line. Miwa dug into it as if she had written it.

Sheila Jordan and Yoko Miwa gave us a fearlessly musical evening, one that made a listener glad to be a jazz fan, and glad to be alive. May we Beantowners not have to wait long for another like it.

Steve Elman, ArtsFuse

Keep Talkin’ – Reviews

Keep Talkin' - Yoko Miwa Trio

CD Review: Keep Talkin’ (from Downbeat – Carlo Wolff)

“Yoko Miwa’s ebullient Keep Talkin’ showcases the drive and lyricism of a pianist and composer at home in bebop, gospel, pop and classical.” 4 stars Read More >>

Carlo Wolff, DownBeat Magazine

CD Review: Keep Talkin’ (from NYC Jazz Record – Donald Elfman)

“a brilliant display of compositional moods … Miwa is a virtuoso pianist with dazzling technique always in the service of interaction and exchange of ideas.” Read More »

Donald Elfman, NYC Jazz Record

CD Review: Keep Talkin’ (from Audiophile Audition – Robbie Gerson)

“Keep Talkin’ represents jazz at its finest! … impressive array of stylized interpretations” Read More »

Robbie Gerson, Audiophile Audition

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Pathways – Reviews

Pathways - Yoko Miwa Trio

CD Review: Pathways (from AllAboutJazz – Dan McClenaghan)

“If ever there was a studio recording with the freshness and vitality of a live set, this is it. The group dynamic bounces with joy, and Oscar Peterson and Benny Green come to mind, stylistically, with Miwa’s always engaging melodies dancing around propulsive rhythms. This is Yoko Miwa at her extroverted best.” Read More »

Dan McClenaghan, All About Jazz

CD Review: Pathways (by Ken Franckling)

“…an integral force on the area’s thriving jazz scene with her fine, straight-ahead playing and creative spirit. Pathways is Miwa’s first CD in about five years. It stacks up as one of the finest releases to cross my desk so far in 2017.” Read More »

Ken Franckling

CD Review: Pathways (by Bill Copeland)

“Each note seems to fall from the sky like a rain drop, a bead that takes on a life of its own within its shiny tone. Her rhythm section must be having the time of their musical lives accompanying her with their racing, throbbing low end notes and their persistently swift drum kit patterns.” Read More »

Bill Copeland

CD Review: Pathways (from NYS Music: New York’s Music News Source)

“A highly affable experience featuring three seasoned and spectacularly attuned musicians, Pathways is a timeless album that goes down smooth from start to finish.” Read More »

Amy Cavalier, NYS Music

CD Review: Pathways (from Improvijazzation Nation)

“Yoko’s ability to create moods, or bring them back to mind, is simply astounding… and her co-players, bassist Will Slater and drummer Scott Goulding, compliment her keyboards in every way!” Read More »

Dick Metcalf (aka Rotcod Zzaj), Improvijazzation Nation

CD Review: Pathways (from Music Man Blog)

“The new CD from The Yoko Miwa Trio is simply wonderful Jazz. Pianist/Composer Yoko Miwa’s performance is nothing short of spectacular! Her sense of melody and phrasing even when improvising is perfect. She plays with clarity and spontaneity even when she is exploring new places in each song. The listener experiences something new in each song and there is the sense that every improvised note is in the right place.” Read More »


CD Review: Pathways (from Jazz Weekly)

“…a take of The Beatles’ “Dear Prudence” is hiply stretched and grooved to delight. Lots of nice ideas bouncing around her.” Read More »

George W. Harris, Jazz Weekly

CD Review: Pathways (by Midwest Record)

“…this modern piano jazzbo has an eye and ear cocked toward the future—without the speculative, way out touches. A solid album that works throughout, Miwa and her gang know what jaded ears want to defrost with and do a great job of delivering the goods. A sure thing throughout.” Read More »


CD Review: Pathways (by WTJU, University of Virginia)

“Her style is direct, wonderfully fluid and as melodic as one can be….The performances are terrific throughout!” Read More »


CD Review: Pathways (by Sandy Brown Jazz)

“a thoroughly enjoyable album which consistently engages the listener’s attention even on the longest pieces. It easily bears repeated listenings, revealing new dimensions and delights to savour each time.” Read More »

Robin Kidson, for SandyBrownJazz.com

CD Review: Pathways (from Rochester City Newspaper)

“Pianist Yoko Miwa wastes no time letting listeners know that her new album, “Pathways,” is going to be a wild ride.” Read More »

Ron Netsky, Rochester City Newspaper

CD Review: Pathways (from The Jazz Writer)

“A balancing act of four original songs and four covers, Pathways is a stand-out for piano trio music….The result is a sound that’s fresh, exciting and full of vigor.” Read More »

Woodrow Wilkins, The Jazz Writer

CD Review: Pathways (review from Follow the Soul Trane)

“On her new album, Miwa sets out to navigate a few new Pathways with the help of her longstanding and deeply harmonious trio. With more than a decade and a half together, the Boston-based group showcases the unique ability to wander down diverging trails without ever losing sight of their shared destination.” Read More »

Erin X. Smithers, Follow the Soul Trane

CD Review: Pathways (from AllAboutJazz – Jerome Wilson)

“There’s a mischievous joy in Yoko Miwa’s piano playing that gives a little extra soul to everything she does. Her trio grooves mightily and she definitely sounds worth going to see live if you’re ever in the Boston area.” Read More »

Jerome Wilson, All About Jazz

CD Review: Pathways (from Diariofolk)

“En Pathways, su piano ágil y empapado de swing se luce en compañía de sus fieles Will Slater (contrabajo), Brad Barrett (contrabajista que el año pasado estuvo tocando junto a nuestro Jorge Pardo en EE.UU.) y Scott Goulding (batería).”


CD Review: Pathways (from Jazz, Ese Ruido) – La Delicadeza en el Ritmo

“Yoko Miwa posee una digitación veloz, con momentos muy coloridos y explosiones de velocidad sorprendentes, expresiva, precisa y, al mismo tiempo, brillante, algo muy raro y difícil de encontrar. Las composiciones, alternando standards y temas propios, son brillantes y lúcidas.”

Felix Amador – Jazz, ese ruido

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Live at Scullers Jazz Club – Reviews

Live At Scullers Jazz Club - Yoko Miwa Trio

Live Concert Review: Scullers Jazz Club in Boston, Oct. 26, 2017

“Exuding confidence – or more like pride without ego – Ms. Miwa brought her audience into the conversation about her life, her music and her passion for jazz. But when she sat down, fronting the Yoko Miwa Trio – she was all business, delivering a dexterity of command across the keyboard with ease and grace….Backed by bassist Will Slater and drummer Scott Goulding, it was clear that the chemistry of the three-some was going to offer a tight set of potent jazz this evening.” Read More »

Doug Hall, Art SparksMusic

Yoko Miwa Trio recorded lovely “Live At Scullers Jazz Club” CD (by Bill Copeland)

Miwa’s original composition “Wheel Of Life” begins with a beautifully understated piano line before soon turning into a larger sound of cascading notes with her rhythm section joining in with their own lovely touches. Miwa has a way of keeping art, beauty, and emotion all perfectly contained in a peaceful expression of colors and tone. It is during these moments of understatement that the listener can truly feel what she was likely feeling when she was composing. Read More »

Bill Copeland

CD Review: Yoko Miwa Trio: Live at Scullers Jazz Club (2011) (from All About Jazz – Dan McClenaghan)

Miwa displays an impressive stylistic range. Opening with a rousing take of Steve Allen’s “This Could Be the Start of Something,” the pianist and her trio mix a bouncy elegance with a full-bore forward momentum. Miwa treats the melody with reverence, riding a inexorable rhythmic wave supplied by bassist Greg Loughman and drummer Scott Goulding. Virtuosic but unrelentingly accessible, the pianist stretches out, taking eleven minutes to explore this Great American Songbook gem with glorious grace.

Dan McClenaghan, All About Jazz

CD Review: Yoko Miwa Trio: Live at Scullers Jazz Club (JazzTimes)

Miwa possesses a fully-formed style and shuns flamboyance for substance, making every note count, despite a formidable technique that might tempt her to overplay. 


CD Review: Yoko Miwa Trio – “Live At Scullers Jazz Club” (jazmuzic.com)

Yoko Miwa swings from both sides of the piano, and is blessed with a left hand that lends itself to a fully developed playing style that is reminiscent of early stride masters; a dominant strength, no doubt acquired through McCoy Tyner’s influence on Miwa, and also may be traced to be-bop genius, Thelonious Monk, who heavily influenced Tyner. 


CD Review: ‘Live At Scullers Jazz Club’ by Yoko Miwa Trio 

The beauty, and indeed, attraction of this, Miwa’s fifth release, Yoko Miwa Trio- Live At Scullers Jazz Club, is in it’s masterful execution and conception. It’s mood firmly planted in traditional post bop jazz, while acknowledging it’s debt to the standards – the blues (Art Farmers minor blues signature tune, Mox Nix), samba (The Brazilian guitarist, Milton Nascimento’s A Festa) and jazz-pop (Steve Allen’s This Could Be The Start Of Something). But then… Read More »

Robert Carraher, The Dirty Lowdown

CD Review: Yoko Miwa – Live at Sculler’s Jazz Club (Jazz and Bossa Review)

The trio swings hard on the Steve Allen composition, “This Could Be the Start of Something”, closing with an energetic piano/drums call and response. The beautiful ballad “Wheel of Life” is one of Miwa two originals. The chord progression gives the listener a sense of circular motion. The other original, “Silent Promise” also a ballad, is one of the most intimate and sublime moments of the album and reminiscent of movie themes like Cinema Paradiso. Read More »


CD Review: Yoko Miwa Trio: Live at Scullers (Improvijazzation Nation)

It’s not just her flawless punctuality, it’s the fact that you can “feel” what she’s playing, whether it be an old standard like the opener, Steve Allen’s “This Could Be The Start of Something Big”, or her superb original composition (my favorite on the CD, by the way), “Wheel of Life”… Read More »

Dick Metcalf (aka Rotcod Zzaj), Improvijazzation Nation

CD Review: Yoko Miwa Trio: Live at Scullers Jazz Club (Sea of Tranquility)

Miwa’s excellent, light-hearted piano sets a great tone straight from the beginning with “This Could be the Start of Something”, and the fun never stops throughout the CD. The crowd can be heard enjoying themselves, especially with up-tempo numbers like the album opener. Read More »


CD Review: Yoko Miwa Trio – Live At Scullers Jazz Club (muzikreviews.com)

If you’re looking for something different to add to your jazz library, or you’re a music fan who is thinking about trying out jazz, then you want this recording. There is meat for the aficionado, but there is also a lot of fun for the regular listener. You’ll hear some tunes you might know (Lou Reed and Aerosmith, for instance!) but like you’ve never heard them before. 


CD Review: Yoko Miwa Trio – Live at Scullers Jazz Club (Gapplegate Music Review)

On this one the live ambiance clearly gets them cooking. They rip through a nice set of standards and less-standards, along with a couple of Yoko originals, and they do an excellent job throughout.
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Grego Applegate Edwards, Gapplegate Music Review

CD Review: Yoko Miwa Trio – Live at Scullers (I Dig Jazz)

She a has a mean left hand and a restless right one…  Read More »

Charles Latimer, I Dig Jazz

CD Review: Yoko Miwa Trio – Live at Scullers (Midwest Record)

What can you say about a jazz piano lady that can mix originals with Lou Reed, Steven Tyler and Steve Allen and make it all come out jazz? … we’ll add that Boston should quit hogging her and let the rest of us see her live once in a while. Simply a first class, straight up, straight ahead player whose sole mission is to step up and deliver the goods, this is solid playing that’s as good as it gets. Read More »


Yoko Miwa Trio – Live At Scullers Jazz Club

When it comes to live albums by jazz performers, those recorded within the cosy confines of a smokey jazz club tend to sound the best. The acoustics at the Scullers Jazz Club sound pretty damn fine, and the interplay and musicality of the Yoko Miwa Trio shine through extremely well. The mix of music is surprisingly varied – along with several original tracks by pianist Yoko Miwa, there are selections from Art Farmer, Milton Nascimento and Steve Allen, sitting alongside songs by rock icons Steven Tyler of Aerosmith and Lou Reed, which you probably wouldn’t expect to find on a jazz album. Read More »

John M. Peters, Cool Bunny Media

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Canopy of Stars – Reviews

Canopy Of Stars - Yoko Miwa Trio

CD Review: Canopy of Stars (from Audiophile Audition – John Henry)

“… shows she is a jazz pianist to be reckoned with.” and “a sophisticated melodic approach, delivered with great sensitivity.”

John Henry, Audiophile Audition

CD Review: Canopy of Stars (from All About Jazz – Dan McClenaghan)

“Japanese-born, Boston-based pianist Yoko Miwa follows up her 2004 release, Fadeless Flower (Polystar Records) with A Canopy of Stars, building on her crisply incisive percussive approach that bubbles with warm melodies and an array of colors …”  Read More »

Dan McClenaghan, All About Jazz

CD Review: Canopy of Stars (from Boston Herald – Kevin R. Convey)

“… the trio is a model of musical telepathy and subtle but stunning chops..” Read More »

Kevin R. Convey, Boston Herald

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Fadeless Flower – Reviews

Fadeless Flower - Yoko Miwa Trio
Fadeless Flower – Yoko Miwa Trio

CD Review: Fadeless Flower (from Audiophile Audition – John Henry)

“Another outstanding Japanese female jazz piano star is with us, hard on the heels of the phenomenal Hiromi (reviewed twice here last month). This is already the second album as leader for Ms. Miwa, who began her studies with the father of famed jazz pianist Makoto Ozone, and has served as accompanist to vocalist Kevin Mahogany. In 2001 she was a featured performer at the Kennedy Center’s “Mary Lou William’s Women in Jazz Festival.” All nine tracks here are her originals and each has a song-like sense about them that seem to perfectly fit the album’s titled Fadeless Flower – which is also a waltz-tempo tune on the album. She observes, “I’m always trying to sing when I play a solo, I mean sing through my piano phrasing.” Her trio members support her effectively by avoiding overstating their parts – especially the tasteful drummer. Not all the tunes are so lyrical however; some are straight-ahead swingers with some active bluesy left-hand chording. Her clean and singing sound is beautifully transmitted by the high quality recording on this new-to-me Japanese label.”

John Henry, Audiophile Audition

CD Review: Fadeless Flower (from All About Jazz – Dan McClenaghan)

“The pianist has an engaging way of repeating a phrase, drawing the listener in before she lets the melodic flow go free again, telling stories full of concise and beautifully-rendered ideas…. The variety of styles Miwa commands, while maintaining a start-to-finish cohesion of sound on Fadeless Flower, is impressive. A gorgeous and unpretentious set of straight-ahead jazz.”  Read More »

Dan McClenaghan, All About Jazz

CD Review: Fadeless Flower (from All Music Guide – Rick Anderson)

“Her second album as a leader is one of the warmest, most unapologetically lyrical jazz albums of the year… Miwa displays her facility with a variety of styles on this all-original program….what’s consistently impressive is her ability to deliver complex and challenging musical ideas in a compelling and yet frequently gentle and inviting way.” Read More »

Rick Anderson, All Music Guide

CD Review: Fadeless Flower (The Village Voice)

“Young mainstream piano trio aim for clean sound, delicate balance, inconspicuous beauty.”

The Village Voice

CD Review: Fadeless Flower (Jazziz)

“Pianist Yoko Miwa displays unpretentious melodies, elegant phrasing, and the lyrical sensibility of a jazz poet on Fadeless Flower… she’s a remarkably fluent mainstream player with a graceful touch and a self-assured notion of where each tune is headed.”

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In the Mist of Time – Reviews

In The Mist Of Time - Yoko Miwa Trio

CD Review: In the Mist of Time (James Isaacs)

“Yoko Miwa demonstrates a full command of the inner-directed, post-Bill Evans piano idiom, which also takes in the work of Keith ]arrett and, to lesser extents, Chick Corea and Steve Kuhn… displays her burgeoning talent as a writer of melodically inviting, impressionistic material, as well as introducing a technically assured soloist with a clean, singing sound and an occasional penchant for the blues in pastels.”

James Isaacs, legendary DJ and jazz critic

CD Review: In the Mist of Time (Boston Herald)

“In the Mist of Time displays the depth and breadth of Yoko Miwa’s talent.”

The Boston Herald

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Interviews

Yoko Miwa’s Life Cycles

When she was a 16-year-old piano student in her hometown of Kobe, Japan, Yoko Miwa decided it was time to see if she had what it takes. She was considering the classical conservatory, but, as was routine in Japan, she decided to consult a music professor to see if it was worth her continued study. The answer was, “Yes, you will be accepted.” Miwa, after all, was a prodigy with perfect pitch who was already playing the virtuoso repertoire of Mozart, Beethoven, and Chopin. But there was a caveat. “Your technique is all wrong,” she was told.

So, for a year, Miwa did nothing but practice scales and arpeggios. Slowly. Softly. Relearning her technique. Up and down the keyboard. Practicing crossing thumb under index finger as she moved up and down so that each note registered evenly, from strong finger to weak. “It was so boring!” Miwa says when we speak at a Somerville coffeehouse. “We had an upright piano, and I’d bang my head against it.” But she ended up at Koyo Conservatory in Kobe, apparently bound for a career as a classical concert pianist.

Until one day at the movies — she can no longer remember the singer or the film — she heard a jazz rendition of “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.” She wanted to check out jazz. A clerk at a Kobe music-rental shop suggested Herbie Hancock and Bud Powell, but she found them overwhelming. Still, interested in studying jazz, she got a job as a waitress at a club owned by the jazz organist Minoru Ozone — who also happened to be the father of jazz star Makoto Ozone. Ozone senior gave her a piece — “Tenderly” — and told her to learn it by ear. Two weeks later, she came back with the whole piece memorized, improvisations and all.  Read More »

Jon Garelick, Boston Phoenix

Yoko Miwa: New Star in an Old Sky (interview)

Self-effacing but with healthy ambition—and genuinely glamorous—pianist Yoko Miwa is a shimmering study in contrasts. Her music is loyal to sources and roots, yet it is fresh and sexy. Everything is in balance in her work. On a most elemental level she is like a graceful hostess at a grand party, catering to the desires of all; on a deeper level she is an architect. Imagine, far from her native Kobe, Japan, a dilapidated ballroom, say, in Detroit. Say it is the place where the old jazz masters used to play, and you walk in through the doorway for old time’s sake. However, the joint has been refurbished, everyone is dancing, and everything is sparkling. That is how it is to listen to Miwa. Read More »

Gordon Marshall, All About Jazz

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