Apr 6, 2011
Critically-acclaimed jazz pianist Junko (pronounced “June-Ko”) Onishi is set to tour several cities in the U.S. this Spring in support of her new CD, “Baroque,” released this past Fall by Verve Records. She’s hitting the finest clubs in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York, performing in a trio with Gregory Hutchinson on drums and Dwayne Burno on bass. James Carter will join the group as a special guest for the New York City dates. This tour is the first that Junko has undertaken in the U.S. since the 1990’s and follows in the footsteps of her sold-out release concert in Tokyo this past fall before an audience of 2000 fans.
Junko is a strong writer and arranger whose trio performances are known for being stimulating and challenging of the traditional approach to classics. I spoke with her as she prepared for the Los Angeles show, and we talked about the state of affairs in her native Japan, her taste in band members and why she took a ten year sabbatical from recording.
Junko Onishi – “Flamingo” from Baroque. Her first album since 1999 – and first for Verve – is a large group format for Junko, adding horn players like James Carter, Nicholas Payton and Wycliffe Gordon to her basic rhythm section of bassist Reginald Veal and drummer Herlin Riley. The result is this silky version of a classic tune.
Junko Onishi – “How Long Has This Been Goin’ On” from Live at the Village Vanguard. While Baroque has fleshed out a lot of her ideas with a large ensemble, it’s the trio format in which Junko has made her name. Here she is working out a Gershwin classic in a 1994 recording with bassist Veal and drummer Riley.
Junko Onishi – “Hey Joe” from Fragile. Junko goes electric for a cover of the classic blues tune most of us know from Jimi Hendrix’s version. Bassist Veal and drummer Motohiko Hino join in.