City Pulse

By PK Greenfield

At the precociously smart age of three, Katsuko Tanaka started taking piano lessons at the Yamaha School of Music in Osaka, Japan. Originally groomed and tutored to become a classically trained pianist, her introduction to a “different style” of music thwarted those professional plans and jettisoned a new career path. By scholarship, she was invited to study in California. Her journey took another riff in 2008 when Katsuko had an epiphany and realized that she had to come to New York City to continue studying her passion — American Jazz.

While history reports that Jazz was born in the south, the northeast has some of the most acclaimed venues in the entire country. With rooms like 55 Bar, Arthur’s Tavern, Cleopatra’s Needle, Blue Note, The Jazz Gallery, Iridium and the popular Wynton Marsalis’ jam sessions at Jazz@Lincoln Center, just to name a few, Katsuko has been exposed to today’s greatest musicians.

“Her music is individual and her voice is being recognized among the many who come here (the very competitive New York) to seek their dream in the United States.”
— Michael Philip Mossman

Within a couple of years, Katsuko was fortunate to meet Danton Boller, Willie Jones III, and Antonio Hart — they set off to the recording studio. She released her debut recording, “Beyond Intersection” which has received much acclaim and now her distinct style, influenced by the melding of two cultures, can be experienced live at places like Zinc Bar and The Kitano New York.

Visit for upcoming performances and to purchase her CD.

Photos: Courtesy of Katsuko Tanana

Originally published October 2012
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