Makiko Hirabayashi – pianist/composer

Makiko Hirabayashi is a Japanese pianist/composer, based in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Since the release of her first trio album in 2006, Makiko has received wide critical acclaim as a personal voice on the international jazz scene. The freshness of both her compositions and the trio’s vibrant interplay has caught the ears of many listeners around the world. The trio, featuring drummer/percussionist Marilyn Mazur (Miles Davis Group 85-89, Jan Garbarek Group 91-05) and bassist Klavs Hovman, has been her main focus in the recent years, where she established her unique sound through performances in Europe and Japan, as well as in countries less travelled, i.e. Egypt and Malaysia.

Makiko Hirabayashi Trio’s 4th album “Where The Sea Breaks” was released in March 2018 on Enja/Yellowbird Records, featuring the award winning Danish trumpet/flügelhorn player Jakob Buchanan on 4 tracks. 

 (from liner notes by  Kazutomi Aoki)

“There are many fine pianists from Japan, but more than anyone, Makiko Hirabayashi invites you to the musical universe of wonder, where the depths and forms of the human emotions are revealed, and become landscapes where stories are told.”        

The trio has been awarded 2 prizes for both sound and composition, for their second album “Hide And Seek” in 2009. 

Throughout her career, Makiko has collaborated with a wide range of musicians, both on the jazz scene and the world music scene. She has recently performed duo/quartet concerts with the legendary Italian trumpet player, Enrico Rava. She also plays an active roll in many of Marilyn Mazur’s projects, and has worked with many of Europe’s prominent musicians, including Norma Winstone, Nils Petter Molvær, Eivind Aarset, Auden Kleive, and Fredrik Lundin.

Makiko has released 7 albums as a leader. Amongst them is a duo album “Gong” with the American saxophonist Bob Rockwell, released in 2016. The music on this album reflects on the Fukushima earthquake/tsunami in 2011, and the years that followed the incident.
Another drumless, bassless project “Binocular” 
with trumpet/flügelhorn player Flemming Agerskov and Francesco Cali on accordion, was documented at Rainbow Studio in 2011. This unusual constellation allowed
 the band to explore new territories in sound and forms of music.

Makiko Hirabayashi was born 1966 in Tokyo, Japan, where she started playing piano at the age of 4. Spending 5 years of her childhood in Hong Kong – a cultural melting point at the time, has had a lasting impact on her life. At age 20, she won a scholarship to Berklee College of Music in Boston, where she studied for 3 years, absorbing the language of jazz. Since 1990, she has been based in Copenhagen, Denmark. Her multicultural background and musical diversity is reflected in her music. Elements of jazz, classical music, Far Eastern music and Nordic moods are all molded uncontrivedly into an intriguing, compelling sound of her own.

Awards/Grants
2010
• Jazz Audio Disk Award -Best Instrumental Album 2009 for “Hide And Seek” (Jazz Critique Magazine, Japan)
• Jazz Melody Award 2009 for title track, “Hide And Seek” (Jazz Critique Magazine, Japan)

2007-2017
• Danish Arts Foundation’s grant for artistic work

1995
• Best Arrangement Prize, Public Prize and 3rd Prize with Sisters at Europ’ Jazz Contest, Bruxelles

Japanese Biography