Naomi Nakanishi

Organization: The Jazz Gallery
Title: Jazz Pianist, Composer, and Educator
Program Graduation: BM, ALP Certificate 2020
Musical Studies: Piano
Musical Specialties: Freelance, Jazz
Non-Musical Specialties: Education, Marketing
Quote: “The Institute for Music Leadership was an incredibly valuable resource for me at Eastman. I did an internship at The Jazz Gallery (NYC) through the ALP program, creating meaningful connections.”


A dynamic pianist, improviser, and composer, Naomi Nakanishi invites their listener with distinguishable melodies, sonorous harmonies and unconventional phrasing.   They have performed at major festivals such as the Rochester International Jazz Festival, Panama Jazz Festival and the national Jazz Education Network Conference with both big bands and small groups. Naomi has worked with artists such as Joe Lovano, Kris Davis, Gerald Clayton, Adam Cruz, Danilo Pérez, Tia Fuller, and Linda Oh. As a queer, Asian American musician Naomi is an equal rights advocate implementing projects on social justice issues through original compositions and poetry.  In 2019 Naomi was selected to participate in the Washington Women in Jazz: Young Artist Showcase as well as the Women in Jazz Organization Mentorship Program studying with Rachel Z. Hakim. They are also the recipient of the 2020 Hal Leonard Collegiate Scholarship through the Jazz Education Network and was recently selected to participate in the 2022 Betty Carter Jazz Ahead Residency at the Kennedy Center. Recent work includes their debut EP Hear Me Speak, released on Habitable Records in June 2022. Their music aims to reconstruct, experiment and interact with sounds influenced by their comprehensive background in Black American Music, indie-folk, R&B and classical piano. Naomi holds a Master’s Degree from the Berklee Global Jazz Institute led by Grammy award winning pianist, Danilo Pérez. There they performed regularly with their trio and various chamber ensembles. In addition Naomi has performed in numerous classical settings both as an accompanist and soloist.