Mayuko Katakura


Born in Sendai, Japan, into a family of jazz musicians, Katakura has jazz in her DNA. She began playing piano at age five, and studied mostly classical music throughout her childhood. After entering Senzoku Gakuen Junior College in Japan, she started studying jazz piano. Katakura was awarded a scholarship to attend the Berklee College of Music, and moved to Boston in 2002. While attending there, she performed with great musicians such as Jerry Bergonzi, Dick Oatts, Dave Santoro, Cristian Scott, and many more. In 2004, she performed at Blue Note New York as a member of the Berklee Scholarship Jazz Group. She moved to New York after graduation and got a full scholarship to enter the Juilliard School where she studied with Kenny Barron. She had various opportunities to perform with musicians such as Jimmy Heath, Wynton Marsalis, Carl Allen, Ben Wolf, Benny Green, Donald Harrison, Victor Goines, and many more. She got first place in Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Pianist Competition in 2006, and she was invited to perform with her trio in the festival the following year. Also, she was a semi finalist in Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competiton in 2006. Katakura came back to Japan in 2008 and became involved in the Tokyo jazz scene. Right after she came back, she performed in Korea and Japan as a member of "Juilliard Jazz Ensemble" with Carl Allen and Ron Blake. Her debut album "Inspiration" received the New Star Award in 2009. She has performed with musicians such as Kimiko Itoh, Kiyoshi Kitagawa, Hidefumi Toki, Branford Marsalis, Ravi Coltrane, Peter Washington, Kenny Washington, and many more. In addition, she currently teaches at Senzoku Gakuen University.

Jonathan Katz


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. Jonathans 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. Jonathans arrangements of Japanese traditional music and childrens 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. 

Simon Cosgrove


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.

Michal Sobkowiak 


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. In 2022, he founded the Japan Jazz Pop Piano Competition. 


*The list of jury members is subject to change