Makiko Hirabayashi – pianist/composer

Makiko Hirabayashi is a Japanese pianist/composer, based in Copenhagen since 1990. She has received wide critical acclaim as a personal voice on the international jazz scene since the release of her first trio album, “Makiko” in 2006  on the German jazz label, Enja. Makiko Hirabayashi Trio, featuring drummer/percussionist Marilyn Mazur (Miles Davis Group 85-89, Jan Garbarek Group 91-05) and bassist Klavs Hovman has released 4 albums to date, and toured extensively throughout Europe and Asia for the last 15 years. Their second album, “Hide And Seek” won both Best Instrumental Album 2009 and Jazz Melody Award in Jazz Critique Magazine, Japan.

With the release of the new album “Weavers” in April 2021, Makiko expands her musical universe with a new quartet, featuring Fredrik Lundin (sax), Thommy Andersson (b) and Bjørn Heebøll (d). This group balances between  strong lyricism and new sonic and harmonic explorations, with the collective, creative process at its core.

In 2020, Makiko was the recipient of the prestigious Honorary Award from the Danish Composers Association. She has released 8 albums as a leader, including  a duo album “Gong” with the American saxophonist, Bob Rockwell,  and “Binocular” with trumpet/flügelhorn player, Flemming Agerskov.

Since the beginning of her career, Makiko has collaborated with a wide range of musicians on the jazz scene as well as the world music scene. She plays an active role in numerous projects led by Marilyn Mazur, and has worked with many of Europe’s top notch musicians, including Enrico Rava, Norma Winstone, Nils Petter Molvær, Audun Kleive, Fredrik Lundin and Josefine Cronholm.

Makiko Hirabayashi was born 1966 in Tokyo, Japan, where she started playing piano at the age of 4. Spending 5 years of her formative years in Hong Kong – a cultural melting pot 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. Her original intention to study film scoring quickly shifted towards improvising and composing on the piano, as she found herself immersed in the live jazz scene of Boston. 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

2020
• Honorary Award, DJBFA (Danish Composers Association)

2021, 2020, 2007-2017
• Danish Arts Foundation’s grant for artistic work

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)

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

Japanese Biography