The Afro-Cuban Jazz Project, co-led by Latin jazz pianist Chiemi Nakai and percussionist Emmanuel "Manu" Bizeau, has released Bridges, a production combining, in Nakai's words, her "modern harmonic approach, and Bizeau's advanced rhythmic concepts."
The CD showcases eight compositions penned by Nakai, including Más y Mas (featuring a Jimmy Bosch trombone solo), and Pedro Flores' Obsesión.
Also playing on this CD are bassists Juan Carlos Formell, Carlos del Pino, Jorge Bringas, Mario Rodriguez, Noriko Ueda, and Mike Herscher, in addition to flutist Roberto Pitre and percussionists William "Beaver" Bausch, Richie Flores, Marvin Diz, Ludwig Alfonso, and Jerome Goldschmit. Nakai's The Moon on Water features vocalist Mari Koga, who wrote its lyrics.
A New York-based native of Japan, Nakai began her classical training early on, gravitating toward jazz and Latin music. During the time she resided in Osaka, she received recognition for her performances of jazz, Brazilian music, and salsa. By 1993, Nakai was a player in Mamborama, the most renowned Latin jazz/salsa group in Osaka.
After arriving in New York City in 1998, she attended Queens College and the Aaron Copland School of Music, and also studied big band jazz orchestration with Michael Phillip Mossman and Sir Roland Hanna.
After graduating from Queens College with an M.A. in Jazz Performance, Nakai joined Jimmy Bosch's band, and traveled throughout Europe.
She currently performs with flutist Jessica Valiente's Latin jazz group (Los Mas Valientes), with the charanga Yerasón (at Havana Central, on Thursday nights), and with Mario Rodríguez's Latin pop band.
French percussionist Bizeau began playing at...