Be Here Now: Yuko Kishimoto Trio @ the Athens Cultural Center, 12/4/10

Yuko Kishimoto

One of the most talented composer-pianists on the Nippertown jazz scene, Yuko Kishimoto has already had her tunes recorded by the Michael Benedict Jazz Vibes and Keith Pray’s Big Soul Ensemble.

On Saturday night at the Athens Cultural Center, Kishimoto will perform an evening of her compositions, accompanied by saxophonist Leo Russo and bassist Mike Lawrence.

Kishimoto recently took a moment to chat with about the influences of her classical training and how that affects her jazz compositions:

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Q: As a pianist coming from the classical music tradition, do you fight with classical influences while you’re playing jazz?

A: I do not fight with my classical influences. In classical music, since all the notes have already been provided and everybody plays the same notes, interpretation (how you play, not what you play) plays a significant role in a successful performance.

In jazz, because one has to improvise and focuses so much on what to play, it’s easy to get technical and forget about musicality. I think a good performance of any genre should be full of expression and musicality. That notion comes from my classical background, and I think it’s a good thing.

Q: So hypothetically speaking, let’s say you’re working on one of your compositions, and then you think to yourself, “Oh, that sounds a little like Rachmaninoff or Beethoven.” Would you change it, keep it or scrap it?

A: I doubt that my work would ever resemble Rachmaninoff or Beethoven. If that ever happens, I would just keep it.

Many sax players play a Charlie Parker quote or two – or something that resembles his nuances – when they improvise, and I’m pretty sure they would keep the material. Those phrases are now a part of their vocabulary. I think the same goes for writing.

Planet Arts presents “JAZZ one2one: The Music of Yuko Kishimoto” in concert at the Athens Cultural Center in Athens at 8pm on Saturday. General admission tickets are $10, and there will be a meet-the-artist reception immediately following the performance.

Related story: Yuko Kishimoto interview

Interview and photo by Andrzej Pilarczyk

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