Junko Onishi (musician)

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Junko Onishi
Birth nameŌnishi Junko
Born (1967-04-16) April 16, 1967 (age 52)
Kyoto, Japan
Occupation(s)Musician, composer, producer
Years active1989–present
WebsiteOfficial website

Junko Onishi (大西 順子, Ōnishi Junko, born April 16, 1967 in Kyoto) is a Japanese jazz pianist; she plays in the post-bop genre.

Early career[edit]

After studying at Berklee College of Music, Onishi moved to New York City, where she played with Joe Henderson, Betty Carter, Kenny Garrett, and Mingus Dynasty. She has also worked with Jackie McLean, Holly Cole, and Billy Higgins, among others, and recorded eight CDs for Blue Note (Somethin' Else in Japan) as a leader.

In May 1994, Junko Japanese played for a week at the Village Vanguard, with Wynton Marsalis's sidemen, bassist Reginald Veal, and drummer Herlin Riley.[1]

Although she lists Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, and Ornette Coleman as her primary influences, her playing is also reminiscent of McCoy Tyner and contemporaries such as Kenny Kirkland and Mulgrew Miller.

Onishi appeared in the documentary Blue Note: A Story of Modern Jazz (1997), playing the song "Trinity" ("Quick") from her album Play, Piano, Play.

Hiatus and later career[edit]

Onishi stopped performing in the late 1990s, having chosen to study and practice. When Jaki Byard, her mentor at that time, died in 1999, she stopped playing completely for two years: "I felt like I lost everything; I felt like I didn't have any more mentors".[2] She had to redevelop her technique when she decided to return, and started going to a gym to help her cope with the physical demands of playing.[2]

Blue Note released her trio album, Musical Moments in 2009. Baroque (Verve), with Onishi leading a much larger group, followed a year later.[2]


Albums as leader[edit]

Year recorded Title Label Notes
1992 Wow Somethin' Else Trio, with Tomoyuki Shima (b), Dairiki Hara (d)
1993 Cruisin' Somethin' Else
/Blue Note
Trio, with Rodney Whitaker (b), Billy Higgins (d)
1994 Live at the Village Vanguard Somethin' Else
/Blue Note
Trio, with Reginald Veal (b), Herlin Riley (d).
1994 Live at the Village Vanguard, Vol II Somethin' Else
/Blue Note
Trio, with Reginald Veal (b), Herlin Riley (d).
1995 Piano Quintet Suite Somethin' Else
/Blue Note
Quintet, with Eiichi Hayashi (as), Marcus Belgrave (tp, voc), Rodney Whitaker (b), Tony Rabeson (d)
1996 Play, Piano, Play Somethin' Else
/Blue Note
Trio, with Shigeo Aramaki (b), Dairiki Hara (d). In concert
1997 Self Portrait Somethin' Else Compilation
1998 Fragile Somethin' Else
/Blue Note
Onishi also plays keyboards. With Reginald Veal (b), Karriem Riggins, Motohiko Hino, Tamaya Honda (d; separately)
2008-09 Musical Moments Somethin' Else
/Blue Note
Trio, with Yousuke Inoue (b), Gean Jackson (d). Bonus track from 2008 is trio, with Reginald Veal (b), Herlin Riley (d)
2010 Baroque Verve
2016 Tea Times Taboo (Village Records)
2017 Very Special SOMETHIN'COOL
2017 Glamorous Life SOMETHIN'COOL

Other recordings[edit]

Year recorded Leader Title Label Notes
1994 Shigeharu Mukai J Quintet Featuring Junko Onishi Somethin' Else
1996 Jackie McLean Hat Trick Somethin' Else (Blue Note)
1996 Joe Lovano Tenor Time Somethin' Else
1999 Phil Woods Cool Woods Somethin' Else


  1. ^ Gourse, Leslie (1995). Madame Jazz. Oxford University Press. p. 246.
  2. ^ a b c Murph, John (November 2010) "Junko Onishi: Time to Reflect" JazzTimes.

External links[edit]