Yōsuke Yamashita

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Yōsuke Yamashita
Yosuke Yamashita.jpg
Yōsuke Yamashita in 2006.
Background information
Born (1942-02-26) February 26, 1942 (age 72)
Tokyo, Japan
Genres jazz
Instruments piano
Labels Enja Records, West 54 Records, Verve Records

Yōsuke Yamashita (山下 洋輔 Yamashita Yōsuke?, born February 26, 1942 in Tokyo) is a Japanese jazz pianist, composer, essayist, and writer. He is praised by critics for his unique piano style, which is influenced by free jazz, modal jazz and soul jazz.[1][2]

Since the late 1980s Yamashita's main group has consisted of Cecil McBee (bass), Pheeroan akLaff (drums), and often Joe Lovano (saxophone).


Yamashita had violin lessons betweens the ages of 9 and 15, switching to piano in his teens.[3] He first played piano professionally in 1959, at the age of 17, and attended the Kunitachi College of Music from 1962 to 1967. His first released recording was in 1963, and he became a pioneer of avant-garde and free jazz. In 1969, he formed the Yosuke Yamashita Trio.[4] In 1974, the trio of Yamashita, Akira Sakata (alto sax) and Takeo Moriyama (drums) went on the first of a series of successful European tours, which helped spread beyond Japan Yamashita's and the trio's reputation as driving, fully committed free jazz musicians.[3]

In the 1980s, Yamashita formed the "New York Trio" with bassist Cecil McBee and drummer Pheeroan akLaff. In 1994 he was invited to perform at the 50th anniversary concert of jazz label Verve, held at Carnegie Hall. He provided the music for films such as Inflatable Sex Doll of the Wastelands and Dr. Akagi. He has been a visiting professor of music at Senzoku Gakuen College of Music, Nagoya University of Arts, and his alma mater, Kunitachi College of Music, in addition to publishing work on improvisation and music.

Awards & honors[edit]

  • In 1990, he was awarded the prestigious Fumio Nanri award.
  • In 1999, at the Mainichi Film Concours he was awarded the "Best Film Score" for '"Dr. Akagi.[5]
  • In 2003, he was awarded the Imperial Medal of Honor by the Japanese government for his contributions to the arts and academia.


  • 1969: Mina's Second Theme studio trio with Seiichi Nakamura and Takeo Moriyama
  • 1970: Mokujiki studio trio with Seiichi Nakamura and Takeo Moriyama
  • 1971: April Fool/Coming Muhammad Ali studio trio with Seiichi Nakamura and Takeo Moriyama
  • 1974: Clay (Enja) studio trio with Akira Sakata, Takeo Moriyama
  • 1975: Breathtake (West 54 Records) solo
  • 1976: Banslikana (Enja) solo
  • 1976: Chiasma (MPS) with Sakata, Moriyama
  • 1977: Inner Space (Enja) with Adelhard Roidinger
  • 1984: It Don't Mean A Thing (DIW) solo
  • 1990: Sakura (Verve) with McBee, akLaff
  • 1993: Kurdish Dance (Verve) with Lovano, McBee, akLaff
  • 1993: Dazzling Days (Verve) with Lovano, McBee, akLaff
  • 1996: Spider (Verve) with McBee, akLaff
  • 1999: Fragments 1999 (Verve) with McBee akLaff
  • 2000: Resonant Memories (Verve) solo
  • 2011: Delightful Contrast (Universal) with McBee, akLaff
  • 2013: Grandioso (Universal) with McBee, akLaff


External links[edit]