David Berkman has been an essential part of the New York jazz scene for over 30 years, as a creative and swinging voice on the piano and as a gifted composer, arranger and bandleader. Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Berkman is an award-winning composer/bandleader, a recording artist whose 10 recordings as a leader have appeared on numerous best records of the year critic’s lists (the New York Times, the Village Voice, Downbeat, JazzIz, Jazz Times and others) and an accomplished jazz educator—as both a tenured professor in Jazz Studies at Queen’s College in New York and as a jazz clinician who has taught at numerous camps, universities and conservatories around the United States, South America, Europe and Asia. He has played in countless bands including those of Cecil McBee, Tom Harrell and the Vanguard Orchestra and has performed with and/or recorded with and/or arranged for numerous jazz luminaries, including: Sonny Stitt, Brian Blade, Joe Lovano, Dave Douglas, Ray Drummond, Billy Hart, Dick Oatts, Chris Potter, Lenny White, Bill Stewart, Fathead Newman, Chris Cheek and Hank Crawford. He has published three books on jazz with Sher Music Publishing, “The Jazz Musician’s Guide to Creative Practicing” (2007) , “The Jazz Singer’s Guidebook” (2009) and “The Jazz Harmony Book” (2014). Now appearing more and more often as a bandleader, David Berkman has performed solo and with his trio, quartet, quintet and sextet at festivals and clubs in the United States, Europe and Japan.
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.
New York native Jonathan studied French horn with Paul Ingraham at Yale University and jazz piano and composition with Bill Dobbins at the Eastman School of Music. After studying Japanese at Sophia University on a fellowship from Yale, he moved to Tokyo in 1991. Since then, Jonathan has recorded three critically acclaimed CDs as leader of his own trio in addition to working as pianist in the bands of jazz greats such as the late Ray Brown, Lew Tabackin, Tom Harrell, Bobby Shew, Joe Lee Wilson and Eddie Henderson. Jonathan’s musicianship and diversity have led to concert and session work in other genres. He has performed and recorded with the NHK Symphony Orchestra, Nagoya Philharmonic Pops and Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestras under the baton of Bob Sakuma, and played on recordings and concerts for enka star Itsuki Hiroshi. He is also musical director/pianist/hornist of the jazz world music group CANDELA and co-leader of the jazz quartet New York-Tokyo Connection (NYTC), which has toured and recorded in the US and Japan. Jonathan’s arrangements of Japanese traditional music and children’s songs have garnered acclaim and his big band arrangements are also starting to make a buzz in the US jazz education scene. Jonathan has composed and arranged for numerous ensembles and solo artists including the Nassau-Suffolk Jazz Ensemble, Violinist Narimichi Kawabata, and pianist Yuko Mifune. He is active as a commissioned composer and arranger for jazz ensemble, chamber ensembles, and solo instruments. In 2008, he started his own 19-piece ensemble, The Tokyo Big Band, which plays regularly at the B Flat jazz club in central Tokyo.
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". Currently, he serves as a professor at Fukushima College and as a lecturer at Showa University of Music. 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.
*The list of jury members is subject to change