Was born in England and studied music at Cambridge University after gaining national acclaim as a prizewinner in the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition. He won the prestigious Daiwa Scholarship in 2003 and moved to Tokyo, where he studied Japanese language and traditional music. He soon made an impact on the Tokyo jazz scene and is in constant demand as a saxophonist, pianist, composer, arranger and educator. He has released three albums under his own name, most recently as leader of Tokyo Jazz Seven, and has performed with such acclaimed artists as the Duke Ellington Orchestra, Jamie Cullum and Duran Duran. In 2014 his group was invited to play at the Manly Jazz Festival in Sydney, and he also performed at the Jus’ Jazz Festival 2013 in India. Simon is currently an in-house musician at the Maduro lounge in Tokyo, as well as Assistant Professor at Joshibi University. Since 2017 he has appeared on TV and in concert with Japanese superstar Seiko Matsuda. He released his fourth album as leader “Simon Cosgrove meets the Okazaki Bros” in July 2019.
Long Island, New York native Jonathan took up piano at six and French horn at nine. He discovered jazz at 11 and played with Frank Foster and other jazz giants in his teens. He studied music at Yale University and the Eastman School of Music. After studying Japanese at Sophia University, he moved to Tokyo in 1991. Jonathan has worked with famed jazz artists Ray Brown, Kenny Burrell, Lew Tabackin, Tom Harrell and Eddie Henderson, with the NHK Symphony, Tokyo Philharmonic and other leading Japanese orchestras, and with enka superstar Itsuki Hiroshi. He has released one solo piano CD and 3 trio CDs, and has toured and recorded as a core member in several other groups, including world-jazz group CANDELA, jazz quartet NYTC, and Latin jazz quintet MAMBO INN. In 2008, Jonathan assembled Tokyo Big Band, a 19-piece ensemble of top Tokyo-based musicians who perform his over 70 compositions and original renditions of Japanese traditional songs. Jonathan is also pianist in the Disney World Beat big band. He has received numerous composing and arranging commissions, including from the Taipei Jazz Orchestra, classical violinist Narimichi Kawabata, and concert pianist Yuko Mifune, and was the bandleader and arranger for bossa nova singer Lisa Ono’s nonet (2019) and quintet (2020). Jonathan is also an avid music educator who has given clinics and guest performances at universities and high schools in Japan, the US and Taiwan, and teaches private lessons as well as clinics in composition, arranging, and big band.
Slawomir Stanislaw Kowalewski (Slavek)
An award-winning Polish composer and pianist based in Tokyo/Kamakura. His work on major film and broadcast productions includes original scores for NHK, Nihon-TV, Fuji Television, TV Tokyo, and TBS networks, as well as Japan’s top pop act, AKB48, and covers a wide range of musical genres, ranging from full classical orchestral scores to Japanese traditional, piano solo, jazz, electronic, minimal, and avant-garde. Slavek began playing piano at five, but his family’s move from Communist Poland to Western Germany when he was ten was the key factor in expanding his musical horizons beyond the conventional: Slavek played in bands (alternating guitar, drums, and bass), studied the sitar from Shalil Shankar, and produced punk albums, all the while continuing to win prizes for his piano playing. After a single audition, he was accepted into the Conservatory van Amsterdam, where he received a rigorous education in classical music under the tutelage of the great pianist Håkon Austbø. Later, he went on to study counterpoint, orchestration, and scoring for film, from multiple-award-winning composer Jurre Haanstra. Slavek’s original score for Edmund Yeo’s “Kingyo” was celebrated at the Venice Bianalle in 2009 and in 2013 the Brooklyn Film Festival honored him with the award for best score for his inventive work on the quirky sci-fi feature “Sado Tempest.” Both of these projects are ideal examples of Slavek’s skill at synthesizing cross-cultural hybrids, moving freely between classical and contemporary modes, and fusing organic and electronic textures. In 2020 Slavek composed the soundtrack for the Hulu TV-drama “Love you as the world ends” and in 2022 he released another piano solo album called “Reset”. He is also a part-time lecturer for orchestration and arrangement at the renowned Seika University in Kyoto.
Michal Sobkowiak (Jury Chairman)
Born in an artistic family in Poland, Michal Sobkowiak made his TV debut on "Akademia muzyczna" series as the most talented young pianist at the age of ten. He has performed at major concert halls and music festivals across the country and abroad, including the prestigious National Philharmonic Hall in Warsaw. After graduated from Chopin Academy of Music (currently known as the Frederyk Chopin University of Music) in 1998, he further pursued his postgraduate study at the Zürich Conservatory. His former teachers include Andrzej Jasiński, Teresa Manasterska and Gabriela Weiss. In 1995, he was a prizewinner at the Franz Liszt International Piano Competition (Poland). In 1996, he was given a scholarship from the Frederyk Chopin Society (Warsaw). In 1997, he appeared at the Europe Piano Forum (Berlin, Germany). Not only as a classical pianist, prof. Sobkowiak is also known as a jazz pianist, composer, and a dedicated teacher. In 2002, he performed at the 36th Montreux Jazz Festival (Switzerland), his latest CD "Jazz Loves Chopin", released in 2017, became number one on the Top 100 Album ranking of the e-onkyo music. In 2018 he starred as a pianist in the Japanese movie, "Hitsuji to Hagane no Mori". He has been regularly invited as a jury member at PTNA and the International Chopin Piano Competition in ASIA, as well as the jury chairman of European International Piano Concours in Japan. In 2021, he founded the Japan Jazz Pop Piano Competition. In May, 2022, he performed with Kanagawa Philharmonic Orchestra for a charity concert for Ukraine. Currently, he serves as a professor at Fukushima College and as a lecturer at Showa University of Music.
*The list of jury members is subject to change