Pianist Miki Hayama was born in Kyoto, Japan. She began to play piano and Wadaiko (Japanese drums) at the age of six. During junior high school year, she was first introduced to jazz with her father’s personal collections. She went on to study at the Osaka College of Music where she majored in classic piano for two years. While she was at the Osaka College of Music, she attended Fuji jazz School in Kyoto and she studied jazz piano with well-known teacher and jazz pianist, Sadayasu Fujii. After college, Miki started to work and play at many jazz clubs in the Kansai area. In 1996, she took home first prize at the Yokohama Jazz Competition.
Miki first started traveling to New York in the late 1990s, and her ambition to pursue jazz became a way of life. Since 2003, she has been busy making quite a respected name for herself on New York’s jazz scene. She has toured and shared the stage with Kenny Garrett, Ralph Peterson, Sean Jones, Tia Fuller, the Michael Dease Big Band, Vincent Herring, Bruce Williams, Roy Hargrove, JD Allen, Greg Osby, Cindy Blackman-Santana, Nnenna Freelon, and even the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. Her very own 2006 sophomore release, Prelude to a Kiss, received a five-star rating in Swing Journal, and it drew high praise from the New York Times, and led to an interview and frequent airplay from WBGO. Her newest album, Wide Angle, earned her the Swing Journal’s Gold Disc Award in March 2009, and, Best Production Award in January 2010. She can also be heard as a side person on Tia Fuller’s Pillar of Strength and Healing Space; on Sharel Casity’s Evolve, on Mimi Jones’s, A New Day and Balance, and on Michael Dease Big Band’s, Rentless. Presently, Miki works with the six-time Grammy nominee jazz vocalist Nnenna Freelon and her band, as well as many other New York based bands. She also tours and appears at many jazz festivals worldwide.
Miki’s accomplishments have brought her enthusiastic support from Jazzmaster musicians. According to the piano master Kenny Barron, “Miki Hayama is an amazing young pianist with great chops, a great harmonic concept, and a great imagination.” Today, her tastes in jazz have evolved to include experimental jazz with the use of electronics and gospel, which has been buttressed by her playing the Hammond B-3 organ at the Cathedral United Baptist Church in the Bronx. Her 2016 CD release with her band, Live in Kobe (Japan), is engaging and brilliant. Legend Victor Lewis says, “This young lady, born in Kyoto, Japan, swings as if she’s Harlem grown. Colorful and creative, her style is both aggressive and sensitive.”