Dynamic yet lyrical imagination… whether on her leader projects, as a side musician, at a Sunday service in African-American church, Yayoi always speaks to the soul directly through her music with a huge range of emotions. Yayoi’s source of imagination comes from living everyday to the full each day. Yayoi is energetic, passionate for creativity, curious to collaborate with fellow musicians and people from other fields that involve her mission, and most of all loves her musical family.
Yayoi has performed locally in New York area, and toured nationally as well as internationally. When appearing in Ford del jazz festival in Italy with her trio, Yayoi surprised the audience with her neo-jazz New York sound. Born in Tokyo, Japan, but raised musically in New York, Yayoi can be defined as a pure expression of New York modern jazz, not only has she lived in the metropolis for eight years, but also because her taste, sound, and energy are rooted in that area.
When her trio and quartet was aired on a historic nation-wide Japanese radio program Session 2008 and featured for the monthly program twice on the leading Internet radio station jjazz.net (which recorded the number of accesses exceeded over other programs of the month), Yayoi expressed her sincere feeling for her roots in Japan and Asia by intergrading Japanese Folk melodies into her liberating performance style on her pieces “Motherland" and “Folk Song". Yayoi also dedicated compositions “Peace Requiem" to a Japanese journalist killed in Myanmar 2007 and “Dear Asia" to the tragic earthquake happened in Sumatera 2004.
Yayoi’s latest recording “Color Of Dreams" (2005) displays original compositions that reflect her visions through life. As much involved as their rhythmic and harmonic senses tend to be, the main focus of the trio is to reach the listeners’ soul on a spiritual level as a united positive vibration. Legendary jazz drummer Carl Allen and the renowned producer Makoto Kimata produced the 2004 Nippon Crown records release “Angel Eyes" with Three Angels featuring Yayoi Ikawa. The trio features three New York based young female musicians, and their lyrical and modern approach to jazz standard was evaluated in the leading magazine Swing Journal as “post Bill Evans".
In 2008, Yayoi started “The Bridge Project" with the sold-out concert at “Jazz House Alfie" in Roppongi, Tokyo, Japan. Central to this project’s mission is to promote fellowship and create a musical dialogue between up coming New York musicians and Japan musicians in an experimental environment. The goal for this project is to create a Japanese-American jazz scene in New York and Japan that can be compared to what Israel and South/Central American have brought to the New York jazz scene in the past fifteen years.
Yayoi performs regularly with the world famous jazz musicians: Reggie Workman, Victor Jones, Howard Johnson, Charlie Persip, Richard Bona, Billy Hart, Sonny Fortune, Billy Harper, Lenny Picket, Butch Morris, Frank Lacy, Charles Fambrough, Jimmy Vass, Salim Washington, Harlem Renaissance Jazz Orchestra etc. She was the only Japanese musician in World Music Concert "One Voice, One World" at Town Hall in 2002. Yayoi participated on Teo Macero’s last recording as a pianist/soloist with the NYU jazz orchestra in 2007. Yayoi has been the house pianist for “Jazz at Shabazz" in Harlem NYC since 2005. Yayoi has been a member of Billy Fox’s Kitsune Ensemble, Jazz/Hip-hop group “Rogue State", Jonathan Powell’s electronic jazz group. Yayoi has toured with Electronic-classical/Hip-hop band “DBR and Mission" nationally.
As a composer, Yayoi received a commission from Modern Music Society of Tokyo, Japan to write for their eighteen piece jazz orchestra in 2008. Yayoi’s first orchestral work for film was premiered in the Film society of Lincoln center at the Walter Reade Theater in 2007. She also received a full-ride scholarship from the Film Music Museum in California to study and record with a full orchestra at the 2007 NYU/ASCAP Film Scoring workshop in Memory of Buddy Baker.
Yayoi holds a bachelor’s degree from The New School University Jazz and Contemporary Music Studies department. She was the recipient of the Henry and Gill Block Scholarship in 2002, and was often selected as an outstanding student. Her performance for "Jazz Now! A Showcase of New Talent" at Birdland in 2002 was mentioned in Down Beat magazine. She also holds a bachelor degree from International Christian University in Tokyo, Japan. Yayoi is currently working on her Master's degree at New York University studying Jazz Performance/composition, Synthesis, and Film Scoring.
Yayoi has studied Jazz piano with Geri Allen, Jean-Michel Pilc, Vijay Iyer, Gerald D’Angelo, Lee-Ann Lidgerwood, and Kenich Yoshida. Yayoi also studied with Norite Tiles and Kazuko Shirai for classical piano, Gil Goldstein for composition, and Ron Sadoff for film scoring.