Songs of Joy – Reviews

Songs of Joy - Yoko Miwa Trio - CD cover

Downbeat – Jon Garelick (Songs of Joy review)

“But there’s no sound of strain on Songs Of Joy, which kicks off with a roaring, Tyner-esque version of Richie Havens’ “Freedom,” inspired by that singer-songwriter’s iconic performance at Woodstock. Miwa’s taste for unlikely covers of ’60s and ’70s pop also comes through in her reflective take on the Anne Bredon tune popularized by Led Zeppelin, “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” (with bassist Brad Barrett in place of Slater) and on Billy Preston’s “Song Of Joy,” which Sheila Jordan introduced to her at one of the legendary singer’s annual gigs with the Miwa trio in Cambridge.”

“Remarkably, Miwa emerged from those first months of the pandemic with a new recording by her trio, her ninth, which, given the circumstances is remarkably upbeat and affirmative, living up to the album’s title, Songs Of Joy (Ubuntu Music).”

Jon Garelick, Downbeat

WBGO – Nate Chinen’s Take Five (Songs of Joy review)

“Miwa’s working trio has Will Slater on bass and Scott Goulding on drums. On their version of “Think of One,” the Thelonious Monk tune, they take a relaxed, bobbing approach to groove. During the solo piano intro, and in the pauses that she builds into her phrasing (especially after the two-minute mark), Miwa gives the impression of thinking on her feet — a quality that suits the material to a T.”

“A product of Kobe, Japan by way of the Berklee College of Music, pianist Yoko Miwa has lately been earning robust acclaim — in her native Japan, in her adopted hometown of Boston, and increasingly beyond those spheres. Her new album, Songs of Joy, due out on the Ubuntu label on Feb. 12, will only help things along.”

Nate Chinen, WBGO

CD Hotlist – Rick Anderson (Songs of Joy review)

“This album is yet another triumph from one of America’s finest jazz pianists, composers, and bandleaders..

Rick Anderson, CD Hotlist

BBC Radio 3 “J to Z” – Julian Joseph (Songs of Joy review)

“She plays with great force and conviction and power.”
“consideration and a great spirit….very happy discovery for me”
“lots of power in her playing, actually I’m being polite she really wallops the living daylights out of that piano but I like it a lot.”

Julian Joseph, J to Z on BBC Radio 3

Bebop Spoken Here – Lance Liddle (Songs of Joy review)

“I can’t imagine hearing many better examples of jazz piano at its best.

“Like so many of the current crop of jazz pianists, she is equally at home in both the jazz and the classical field successfully merging the two genres albeit with a strong bias towards the jazz end of the spectrum. Probably the best example of this since André Previn.

Lance Liddle, Bebop Spoken Here

All About Jazz – Dan McClenaghan (Songs of Joy review)

“Miwa opens Songs of Joy with an anthemic rendition of Richie Havens’ “Freedom,” the song that launched the folk singer’s star into the heavens after his version was documented in the movie Woodstock. Miwa approaches “Freedom” with a McCoy Tyner-like muscularity, backed by the dense rhythmic back drop from bassist Will Slater and drummer Scott Goulding. It is a powerhouse, all-things-possible sound, spiritual and temporal at the same time.”

“The set’s closer, the folk classic “Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You,” is a change of pace. Bassist Brad Barrett sits in, moving the sound a hundred and eighty degrees away from joy, with his mournful bowing painting a wash of tears brought on by the ramifications of the title’s intent, while Miwa’s piano notes are like teardrops breaking from that wash and falling to the floor.”

Dan McClenaghan, All About Jazz

Jazziz (Songs of Joy review)

“It is a radiant new collection of covers and songs filled with hope.”


Step Tempest (Songs of Joy review)

“Lashing out against the pandemic and other personal set backs, she unleashes her piano fury here with an energy and passion that simply can’t be denied. Hard hitting stuff to wake up even the most somnambulant, Miwa consciously decides to remove any limitations and put the gusto front and center. Hot stuff.

Richard B. Kamins, Step Tempest

Midwest Record (Songs of Joy review)

“”Songs of Joy” is notable for many reasons. The strong material, the powerful piano work, the solid yet fluid rhythm section, and the fact that the music is so positive. Yes, there are “blues” songs and the leader does create a musical response to the passing of her father but the overall emotion one gets while listening is joy.  The joy of performance, of camaraderie, and doing what you are meant to do –– bring pleasure to the listener.  Yoko Miwa does that and more, making one so glad to be in the presence of these fine musicians!”

Midwest Record

Dee Dee McNeil – MusicalMemoirs (Songs of Joy review)

“Yoko Miwa is a powerful pianist, with tenacious ties to her classical training.  Her style of playing is with one foot rooted deeply in the blues and the other in contemporary and modern jazz.  At the same time, one hand is holding onto old-school jazz history and the other is elbow-deep in international cultures.  This album celebrates life, happiness and joy.”

Dee Dee McNeil, MusicalMemoirs

Paris-Move (Songs of Joy review)

“Songs Of Joy” est très probablement “essentiel” à notre santé mentale d’européens.” [“Songs Of Joy” is most likely “essential” to our European mental health.]

Theirry Docmac, Paris-Move

Jazz in Europe – Andrew Read (Songs of Joy review)

“Yoko Miwa has mastered the discipline, intricacy and dexterity of a classical pianist and combined this with the creativity, improvisational skill and flair of an accomplished jazz musician. Stylistically, this places her in a unique position, with each aspect of her varied talents complimenting and enhancing the other. This level of diversity is a rare gift that sets her apart from many contemporaries in her field.”

“Songs Of Joy is an enthralling body of work that will become an important release for the year ahead, providing a welcome reprieve from the challenges that we have all recently faced, with inspiration and hope for what is to come.”

Andrew Read, Jazz in Europe

Metro West Daily News – Ed Symkus (Songs of Joy review)

“Instead of teaching me theory, Minoru had me listen to him play, and then I would learn it all by ear. That really helped me because that kind of stuff you cannot learn from textbooks. And now I teach in the piano department at Berklee, and some students have a hard time playing swing because they never really learned, so I try to share my experience, and try to give a sense of it to them.”

“The way of teaching piano, in general, felt different when I came here as a student,” she said. “I felt more encouraged. My teachers were like, ‘Great! Sounds good!’ And then they would say, ‘Why don’t you also try this?’ But in Japan, it’s more an Asian culture thing; in Japan, my teachers were saying, ‘No, no. Wrong, wrong.’ It later became ‘OK,’ but they didn’t say, ‘Wow! That’s great!’ So now I try to encourage my own students.”

“I am a Led Zeppelin fan,” she said. “I can’t say I’m a huge fan, but I listen to everybody, and that song is there because I know it from Led Zeppelin. Of course, with certain songs, even if I like them, doesn’t mean I can arrange and play them with my trio. There are some songs that I’ve really wanted to play, but I try and try, and it just doesn’t sound right. Sometimes I have to let them go. But some songs just work. That one works. ”

Ed Symkus, Metro West Daily News

Ink Magazine – Bob Pomeroy (Songs of Joy review)

“The joy Yoko Miwa and her friends experience playing this music is infectious. It is an infection I’m happy to catch.”

Bob Pomeroy, Ink Magazine

Michael’s Jazz Blog (Songs of Joy review)

““Song of Joy”, somehow the title song of this album Billy Preston comes next. This beautiful ballad indulges in the great and simple harmonies and melody of this song. I wished this song would never end and just continue forever. Outstanding.”

“The album starts with “Freedom” by Richie Havens, a powerful song and a powerful version by Yoko Miwa, the dense groove by bass and drums and the heavy-McCoy Tyner like chords create a great energy. Excellent and fantastic opener.”

Michael Ferber, Michael’s Jazz Blog

Part Time Audiophile – Marc Phillips (Songs of Joy review)

“Yoko Miwa wanted to create something deliberately optimistic with Songs of Joy. She didn’t miss her mark by creating “an uncharacteristically somber set of music,” and there’s plenty of excitement in this album. But I also think there’s something subliminal at work here, something I feel deep in my bones. Things aren’t going to be the same, and nostalgia probably won’t be the cure for our ills. But the Yoko Miwa Trio provides a feeling that’s much more complex than an earnest attempt at cheering us all up. It’s a reminder that we need to stay connected–not just through music, but through the unspoken relationship between performers and their audience.”

Marc Phillips, Part Time Audiophile

Bill Copeland Music News (Songs of Joy review)

“Miwa has done it again. She has created an album of tunes that lets each song speak for itself, bringing their emotive content to the forefront of the listener’s consciousness. Songs Of Joy is truly an album of joy. Listeners will appreciate what they are hearing as well as what they are feeling as this nearly 71 minutes of music graces their stereo speakers.”

Bill Copeland, Bill Copeland Music News

The Jazz Mann – Ian Mann (Songs of Joy review)

“This is the sound of a band having “serious fun”.”

“Barrett takes over the bass duties for the final piece, an arrangement of the Anne Bredon song “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You”, famously covered in highly dramatic fashion by Led Zeppelin on their remarkable début album. Barrett plays the famous melody on bowed bass, accompanied by the leader’s piano and Goulding’s mallet rumbles and cymbal shimmers. Barrett’s arco playing is atmospheric and highly effective and the piece is very much a feature for him until Miwa takes over for the riff based second section…it’s also the longest piece on the album and for many listeners will represent the album highlight. Anyone who enjoyed Zeppelin’s version (upon which this arrangement is almost certainly based) will surely appreciate this striking jazz interpretation.”

Ian Mann, The Jazz Mann

The Arts Fuse – Steve Feeney (Songs of Joy review)

“Japan-born, Boston-connected pianist Yoko Miwa is still coming on strong with her latest trio disc, Songs of Joy. Her long-running preference for playing in “many different styles” is again on display, a versatility that is distinguished by how she wields it with such ebullience, no matter what piece she is performing.”

Steve Feeney, The Arts Fuse

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

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” (

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 (

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

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

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

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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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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