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Aki Takase
Aki Takase in June 2008.jpg
Aki Takase in June 2008
Background information
Born (1948-01-26) January 26, 1948 (age 76)
Osaka, Japan
Origin Tokyo, Japan
Genres Jazz, Avant-garde jazz, Free jazz, Free improvisation
Occupation(s) Musician, composer
Instruments Piano
Years active 1978–present
Associated acts Berlin Contemporary Jazz Orchestra

Aki Takase (高瀬 アキ) (born January 26, 1948) is a Japanese jazz pianist and composer.


Takase was born in Osaka and started to play piano at age 3. Raised in Tokyo, she studied classical piano at Toho Gakuen School of Music. Starting in 1978, Takase began performing and recording in the US. Her collaborators have included Lester Bowie, Sheila Jordan, David Liebman, and John Zorn. Her first European appearance was in 1981 at the Berlin Jazz Festival in Germany. Through her constant touring and appearances at international jazz festivals, Takase quickly became one of the most sought-after musicians for recording and collaboration.

For many years, she has worked with her husband Alexander von Schlippenbach (also a pianist), as well as with Eugene Chadbourne, Han Bennink, Evan Parker, Paul Lovens, Fred Frith and many others, and in duets with Maria João, Louis Sclavis, David Murray and Rudi Mahall.

In various projects, Takase has dealt with the respective oeuvres of numerous famous jazz musicians, including the works of Duke Ellington (1990), Thelonious Monk (1994), Eric Dolphy (1998), W.C. Handy (2002), Fats Waller (2004), and Ornette Coleman (2006). Given her training and adventurous spirit, Takase's new projects exist as a genre between contemporary music and jazz. These include her duo project YOKOHAMA (Intakt 2009) with Louis Sclavis, KANON (doubtmusic 2011) with Kazuhisa Uchihashi and Axel Dörner or Hotel Zauberberg with Ayumi Paul in 2014 (Intakt Records). „LA PLANETE“ w/ Louis Sclavis, Vincent Courtois, Dominique Pifarely. “ LOK.03 “ w/ Alex v. Schlippenbach and DJIIIVibe. „TAMA“ w/ Jan Roder, Oliver Steidle.“ „Reading and Music“ performance w/ Yoko Tawada. „Cities in the Piano„:dance +piano w / Yui Kawaguchi.„Carmen Rhapsody“ with Mayumi Nakamura. With her new quintett JAPANIC (26. April 2019/ BMC) Aki Takase brings together HipHop, Jazz and Improvisation. “ AUGE“ w/ Christian Weber and Michael Griener.

Since 1988, Takase has lived in Berlin.


An asterisk (*) after the year indicates that it is the year of release.

As leader/co-leader

Year recorded Title Label Personnel/Notes
1978 Aki King Trio, with Nobuyoshi Ino (electric bass, cello), Takuji Kusumoto (drums, percussion)
1981* Minerva's Owl Teichiku Union Quartet, with Dave Liebman (tenor sax, soprano sax), Nobuyoshi Ino (bass), Motohiko Hino (drums)
1981 Esprit Teichiku Union One track solo piano; most tracks duo, with Yoshio Ikeda (bass)
1981 Song for Hope Enja Trio, with Nobuyoshi Ino (bass), Takeo Moriyama (drums); in concert
1982 ABC Teichiku Union/East Wind With Cecil McBee (bass), Bob Moses (drums), Sheila Jordan (vocals)
1982 Perdido Enja Solo piano and koto; in concert
1985 Teni Muho Mobys Duo, with Nobuyoshi Ino (bass, percussion)
1987 Looking for Love Enja Duo, with Maria João (vocals); in concert
1990 Shima Shoka Enja Solo piano
1990 Gunther Klatt & Aki Takase Play Ballads of Duke Ellington Tutu Duo, with Gunther Klatt (tenor sax)
1991 Blue Monk Enja Duo, with David Murray (tenor saxophone, bass clarinet)
1992 Close Up of Japan Enja With Nobuyoshi Ino (bass), Toki String Quartet
1993 Clapping Music Enja Trio, with Reggie Workman (bass), Sunny Murray (drums)
1993–94 Piano Duets: Live in Berlin 93/94 FMP Duo, with Alexander von Schlippenbach (piano); in concert
1994 Oriental Express Omagatoki/Enja Septet, with Hiroaki Katayama (baritone sax, tenor sax), Eiithi Hayashi (alto sax, soprano sax), Issei Igarashi (trumpet), Hiroshi Itaya (trombone), Nobuyoshi Ino (bass), Shota Koyama (drums)
1997 Duet for Eric Dolphy Enja Duo, with Rudi Mahall (bass clarinet, contrabass clarinet)
1997 Tarantella Psi Quintet, with Aleks Kolkowski (violin), Maurice Horsthuis (viola), Tristan Honsinger (cello), Nobuyoshi Ino (bass); released 2006
1997 Valencia Duo, with David Murray (tenor saxophone, bass clarinet); in concert
2001 Le Cahier du Bal Leo Solo piano
2001 St Louis Blues Enja With Nils Wogram (trombone), Fred Frith (guitar), Rudi Mahall (bass clarinet), Paul Lovens (percussion)
2001 Nine Fragments Leo As DEMPA; trio, with Aleksander Kolkowski (violin, turntables, electronics), Tony Buck (drums, electronics)
2002* Diagonal Sound Hills Duo, with Yoko Tawada (vocals)
2002 News from Berlin Victo Duo, with Konrad Bauer (trombone)
2003 The Dessert Leo Duo, with Rudi Mahall (bass clarinet, contrabass clarinet)
2003 Plays Fats Waller Enja With Thomas Heberer (trumpet), Nils Wogram (trombone), Rudi Mahall (bass clarinet), Eugene Chadbourne (guitar, banjo, vocals), Paul Lovens (percussion)
2004 Plays Fats Waller in Berlin jazzwerkstatt With Thomas Heberer (trumpet), Rudi Mahall (bass clarinet), Eugene Chadbourne (guitar, banjo, vocals), Paul Lovens (percussion); in concert
2004 Procreation Enja Quintet, with Walter Gauchel (tenor sax, flute), Rudi Mahall (bass clarinet), Johannes Fink (bass), Heinrich Köbberling (drums)
2004 Lok 03 Leo With Alexander von Schlippenbach (piano), DJ Illvibe (samples, turntables)
2004 Spring in Bangkok Intakt Duo, with Lauren Newton (vocals)
2006 Ornette Coleman Anthology Intakt Duo, with Silke Eberhard (alto sax, clarinet, bass clarinet)
2007* Tenimuhou Duo, with Nobuyoshi Ino (bass, percussion)
2007 Something Sweet, Something Tender Enja Solo piano
2011 Beauty Is the Thing Doubtmusic As Kanon; trio, with Axel Dörner (trumpet), Kazuhisa Ushihashi (guitar)
2008 Live at Willisau Jazz Festival jazzwerkstatt Quintet, with Tobias Delius (tenor sax, clarinet), Rudi Mahall (bass clarinet), Johannes Fink (bass), Heinrich Köbberling (drums); in concert
2008 Iron Wedding Intakt Duo, with Alexander von Schlippenbach (piano)
2008 Evergreen Intakt With Rudi Mahall (bass clarinet)
2008 A Week Went By Psi Some tracks solo piano; one track duo, with John Tchicai (alto sax); some tracks trio, with John Edwards (double bass) and Tony Levin (drums); in concert
2009 Yokohama Intakt With Louis Sclavis (clarinet, bass clarinet, soprano saxophone)
2009 Rolled Up jazzwerkstatt As Tama; trio, with Jan Roder (bass), Oliver Steidle (drums)
2011 Two for Two Intakt Duo, with Han Bennink (drums)
2011 New Blues Enja Most tracks quintet, with Rudi Mahall (bass clarinet), Nils Wogram (trombone), Eugene Chadbourne (guitar, banjo, vocals), Paul Lovens (drums); one track with Alexander von Schlippenbach (trumpet) added
2012 My Ellington Intakt Solo piano
2012 Flying Soul Intakt Quartet, with Louis Sclavis (clarinet, bass clarinet), Dominique Pifarély (violin), Vincent Courtois (cello)
2014 So Long, Eric! Intakt With Tobias Delius (tenor sax), Henrik Walsdorff (alto sax), Alex Dörner (trumpet), Nils Wogram (trombone), Rudi Mahall (bass clarinet, clarinet), Alexander von Schlippenbach (piano), Karl Berger (vibraphone), Wilbert de Joode and Antonio Borghini (bass), Han Bennink and Heinrich Köbberling (drums); in concert
2014 Hotel Zauberberg Intakt Duo, with Ayumi Paul (violin)
2017 Cherry Sakura Intakt Duo, with David Murray
2018* DITZNERs Carte Blanche – Live At Enjoy Jazz 2017 fixcel With Silke Eberhard (alto sax, clarinet, bass clarinet), Sebastian Gramss (bass), Erwin Ditzner (drums)
2019 Thema Prima BMC With Japanic: Daniel Erdmann (saxophone), DJ Illvibe (turntables, electronics), Johannes Fink (double bass), Dag Magnus Narvasen (drums)
2021 "Isn`t it Romantic?" BMC Duo with Daniel Erdmann
2021 "Auge" Intakt Trio with Christian Weber (bbass), Michael Griener (drums)

As sidewoman

Year recorded Leader Title Label
1989 Berlin Contemporary Jazz Orchestra, Berlin Contemporary Jazz Orchestra Berlin Contemporary Jazz Orchestra ECM
1993 Berlin Contemporary Jazz Orchestra, Berlin Contemporary Jazz Orchestra The Morlocks and Other Pieces FMP
1996 Berlin Contemporary Jazz Orchestra, Berlin Contemporary Jazz Orchestra Live in Japan '96 DIW
1990 João, MariaMaria João Alice Enja
2007* Various, Various Free Zone Appleby 2006 Psi
2007* Various, Various Ich hebe meine Augen in die Welt
2007 Johansson, Sven-ÅkeSven-Åke Johansson Für Paul Klee jazzwerkstatt



  • The German Record Critics' Award 1988, 1990, 1993, 1997, 2001, 2004, 2007, 2009, CD "Cherry-Sakura" with David Murray 2017/2. In total she received the awards 9 times (1988–2017).
  • Berliner Zeitung Award (the best Artists of 1999 in the Berlin Newspaper)
  • The SWR Jazz Award 2002.
  • Jazzpreis Berlin, 2018
  • German Jazz Preis for Piano/Keyboard Award 2021.
  • Albert Mangelsdorff Prize 2021
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