A dynamic pianist, improviser, and composer, Naomi Nakanishi invites their listeners with distinguishable melodies, sonorous harmonies and unconventional phrasing. Their music aims to reconstruct, experiment and interact with sounds influenced by their comprehensive background in Black American Music, indie-folk tunes, and classical piano. They have performed at major festivals such as the Rochester International Jazz Festival, Panama Jazz Festival and the national Jazz Education Network Conference with both big bands and small groups. Naomi has worked with artists such as Joe Lovano, Kris Davis, Gerald Clayton, Adam Cruz, Danilo Pérez, Tia Fuller, and Linda Oh. They have also shared the stage with world renowned jazz musicians such as Miguel Zenón, Jimmy Cobb, DeeDee Bridgewater, Nat Reeves, and Tanya Darby.
Recent studio work includes their debut EP, Hear Me Speak, a multidisciplinary portrait of five original poems and compositions, each drawing from deeply personal experiences as a queer, Asian American musician. Naomi is currently a part of Mutual Mentorship for Musician’s 2022 Fall Equinox Cohort, a program focused on intergenerational mentorship and multidisciplinary collaborations with an emphasis on women and non-binary musicians of color. They are also the recipient of the 2020 Hal Leonard Collegiate Scholarship through the Jazz Education Network and was recently selected to participate in the 2022 Betty Carter Jazz Ahead Residency at the Kennedy Center. They are a recent graduate of the Berklee Global Jazz Institute Master’s Program.
In addition to performance, Naomi is also passionate about music education and has served on faculty as a private piano instructor at Merry Melody Music Academy and Brimmer and May School in Boston, MA. They recently conducted a series of workshops on racial and gender equity/identity through the Women of Jazz and Creative Music organization and the Esperanza Academy in Boston. Naomi holds a Master’s Degree from the Berklee Global Jazz Institute led by Grammy award winning pianist, Danilo Pérez. There they performed regularly with their trio and various chamber ensembles. In addition Naomi has performed in numerous classical settings both as an accompanist and soloist.
There is hardly a moment in Naomi’s life where they aren’t performing, teaching, or reflecting. They seek to inspire and continue learning from multiracial, queer coalitions, while curating more culturally rich and interactive experiences to all who listen to their music.