Chihiro Yamanaka wows at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club

Last weekend, Japanese pianist Chihiro Yamanaka returned to Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in Soho for a third time. I’m always on the lookout for new Japanese artists to discover and am also an uninitiated jazz fan, so this was one performance I didn’t want to miss.

Japanese-born, New York-based Chihiro Yamanaka is a firm favourite at Ronnie Scott’s. The performance we went to was sold out and the audience was a mix of obvious jazz connoisseurs, Japanese businessmen and the uninitiated but intrigued, like my friend Nikkayla and me.

On stage, Chihiro was accompanied by her all-female band with whom she recorded ‘The Spheres’ – Inga Eichler on the electric/double bass and Karen Teperberg on the drums. Chihiro split her performance between the piano and fender rhodes. We were blown away by the energy that radiated from the stage. Chihiro does far more than simply play the piano well – she has boundless amounts of energy that manifest in her frequently jumping out of her seat and dancing along the keys. Her bandmates are also wonderfully talented and have their own little solo performances during the main songs.

The performance itself lasted for an hour and fifteen minutes but the time flew by, so it felt more like 20 minutes! The band played a mixture of Chihiro’s own compositions – my favourite being ‘Living Without Friday’ – and some very ‘jazzed up’ (excuse the pun) versions of familiar favourites such as Dave Brubeck’s ‘Take Five’ and Scott Joplin’s ‘The Entertainer’.

I’ll be sure to catch Chihiro Yamanaka when she’s next back in the UK. If you’re in need of some jazz, I highly recommend a night out at Ronnie Scott’s. It’s one of the oldest and most famous jazz clubs in the world, slap-bang in the middle of Soho, and is very atmospheric. The cocktail menu is also very good – I recommend ‘The Champagne Socialist’.

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