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 fresheness of both her compositions and the trio’s vibrant interplay has caught the ears of many listeners around the world.
In 2020, she was the recipient of the prestigious Honorary Award from the Danish Composers Association, for her work as a composer throughout the years. 

Makiko Hirabayashi 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 at major festivals and venues throughout Europe and Asia. Their 4th album, “Where The Sea Breaks” was released in 2018 on Enja/Yellowbird Records, featuring the award-winning Danish trumpet/flügelhorn player, Jakob Buchanan on 4 tracks.

 (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 human emotions are revealed, and become landscapes where stories are told.” 


(5/6 stars review by Christian Munch Hansen, Politiken, DK)

        “With their fourth release “Where The Sea Breaks”, they are at the top of their game, with music full of dynamism, melodic details and harmonic richness.”

Since the beginning, 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 and Fredrik Lundin.

Makiko has released 7 albums as a leader. Her second trio album “Hide And Seek” won both Best Instrumental Album and Jazz Melody Award in Jazz Critique Magazine, Japan. Amongst her recordings with other projects is a duo album “Gong” with the American saxophonist Bob Rockwell,  and “Binocular” with trumpet/flügelhorn player Flemming Agerskov.

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 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.


• Honorary Award, DJBFA (Danish Composers Association)

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

• 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)

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

Japanese Biography