Tadataka Unno

  • Tadataka Unno
  • Instruments: Piano

  • Biography:

    Born August 15, 1980 in Tokyo, Japan, to parents who are music fans, Tadataka Unno grew up listening to music. He began piano lessons at age 4, and at age 9, started to study jazz with Yuichi Otsuka and Kazuhide Motooka. He attended Tokyo University for Music and Fine Art, where he studied music composition with Shin Satoh. While in school, Unno started his own group and began to play professionally. In 2003, he won first prize in the solo division at the Asakusa Jazz Contest. He joined the Tomio Morota Sextet and the Yoichi Kobayashi Goodfellows.

    Upon graduation, Unno joined one of Japan's top bassists Yoshio Suzuki's trio as a regular pianist. This is when his career took off. Since then, he has played with Kousuke Mine, Takao Uematsu, Shunzo Ohno, Kimiko Ito, Masahiko Osaka, Daiki Yasukagawa, Kengo Nakamura, Tetsuro Kawashima, Yoshiaki Okayasu, Kazunori Sawada, Takao Ogawa, Hideki Kawamura, Malta, Tiffany, Jimmie Smith, Tommy Campbell, Cecil Monroe, Dave Pike, Dee Daniels, Wess Anderson, and Marcus Printup, among many other noted musicians from Japan and around the world. He was performing 300 days a year by this point.

    In 2004, he won the First Prize and the People's Favorite award at the Yokohama Jazz Promenade with his own trio (Yutaka Yoshida, bass, Shunsuke Umino, drums). In December, he released "Pee Ka Boo!" his first album as a leader from the What's New label.

    In June of 2006, he played in the JVC Jazz Festival at Sweet Rhythm in New York as a part of Yoshio Suzuki's band.

    In May of 2007, the Yoshio Suzuki trio album "For You" is released from the One label. Unno is featured as an up and coming talent.

    In April of 2008, Unno released his second album as a leader "My Romance - The First Sketch of Tadataka Unno" from the Village Music Label. The album features two jazz legends George Mraz and Jimmy Cobb. Receiving positive comments like, "has there ever been a Japanese person who has played this wonderfully?" "an instant masterpiece," "a world class swing feel," the album was released to rave reviews by Swing Journal and other publications.

    After performing professionally for about 8 years in the Japanese jazz scene, he was at the point in his career where Swing Journal said "not knowing him means you don't know the Japanese jazz scene." However, in search of the roots of jazz, he decides to move to the birthplace of jazz, the United States, and start from scratch. After receiving his artist visa, to the disappointment of many fans, he moved to New York in June of 2008. He became a part of the New York jazz scene quickly, and in July of 2009, he toured Japan with Satoshi Inoue.

    In March of 2010, Unno was selected to attend Betty Carter's Jazz Ahead 2010 at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. In June, upon recommendation by Nathan Davis and Curtis Fuller, he attended the Jazz Rising Stars Program of Ravina Festival in Chicago. In October, He released his third album as a leader "As Time Goes By" from the ZZJAPLUS label. In December, He toured Japan with Hassan J.J. Shakur and Jimmy Cobb.

    In Novemver of 2011, Unno joined Japan tour as a member of the Jimmy Cobb Quartet. In the same month, He released his fourth album as a leader "Plays Jazz Standards~Solo Piano~"

    Since his arrival to the United States, Unno has performed at numerous famous jazz clubs like Village Vanguard, Dizzy's Club, Smalls, Lenox Lounge, Smoke, Zinc Bar, Kitano Hotel, as well as many restaurants and churches. He has performed with Frank Wess, Joe Wilder, Jimmy Cobb, Winard Harper, Hassan J.J. Shakur, Eddie Henderson, Steve Nelson, Clifton Anderson, Essiet Essiet, Steve Williams, Kenny Washington, Harry Allen, Pat O'Learly, David Wong and Dezron Douglas. The stimulating environment of New York is improving his already refined musicality. He is considered among the best of the up and coming generation of jazz musicians, and his technique, creativity, balanced sense, and beautiful tone continue to mesmerize audiences.

    Towards the end of their lives, both the legendary Hank Jones and Japanese jazz pianist Yuzuru Sera mentored Unno, having the highest trust in his talents. Unno looked up to them not just as mentors in music, but as mentors of life. When Hank Jones, at the age of 91, passed away in May of 2010 to the sadness of countless friends and fans, Unno was at his deathbed. Through a great sadness, Unno now holds the baton of jazz piano left by Jones.