"If you are a music lover, I strongly suggest you check out Chiemi Nakai, She is a very special talent and an artist to be reckoned with".
Harvey Averne

By American record producer, the founder of CoCo Records and 2 time - Grammy Award Winner directed and mixed for the albums of Eddie Palmieri “The Sun Of Latin Music”(1975) & Eddie Palmieri “Unfinished Masterpiece”(1976).



A native of Japan, Chiemi Nakai began studying the organ as a child at the Yamaha Music School of Japan. She composed her first short song at the age of nine. Having always had a strong desire to compose music, she decided to study piano when she was in her early teens and eventually became interested in Jazz. From there it was a steady progression from Be-Bop to Salsa. After that, her talents were recognized by Albert “Toottie” Heath, one of the best hard bop Jazz drummers on his Japan tour in 1992.

She was soon invited to join “Mamborama” the most well known Latin Jazz & Salsa group in Osaka at the time. This led her to gigs with the members of other influential Latin Jazz & Salsa groups in Japan, including La Orquesta de la Luz.

Wanting to take her career to the next level, she moved to New York City in 1998, and was accepted to the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College, where she graduated with a Masters of Art in Jazz Performance in 2002.

In 2002, she joined "Jimmy Bosch (trombone) y su Salsa Dura" and traveled to Europe to play with the "New York All Stars Band" including famous Latin music stars: Giovanni Hidalgo (congas), Dave Valentin (flute), Jose Alberto “El Canario” (vocal) and Alfredo de la Fe (violin).

From 2003 to 2004, Ms. Nakai played with Juan Carlos Formell’s (vocal, guitar) project called “The Cuban Mission, Omi Odara” which combines Juan’s compositions and Afro-Cuban folk.

In 2006, she performed at Weill Recital Hall in Carnegie Hall with Carlos del Pino (bass) Cuban project which incorporated Cuban contemporary music by composer Miss Tania Leon.

From 2002 to 2010, Chiemi lead her band “Chiemi Nakai the Afro- Cuban Jazz Project” and played at numerous clubs in NYC such as Blue Note, The Kitano, Europe Club, Nuyorican Poet's Cafe, Willie’ s Steak House and so on.

Her first album “bridges” released in March 2008 was nominated as one of the "Next Generation Artist" CDs, Best Latin Jazz of 2008 Award by Latin Jazz Corner. Moreover it was selected as one of the Top 6 Latin Jazz CDs of Diskunion Japan /Union Award 2008.

Since 2011, Ms. Nakai has focused on playing Latin Jazz and has performed at several prestigious clubs every year in NYC such as Blue Note’s new Latin music venue Subrosa, Jazz at Kitano and Birdland. And she has also continued to tour Japan every year playing at some concert halls and Jazz clubs in Osaka, Kobe, Tokyo and Yonago.

She released her second CD “Transformation” in 2013.

The 3rd CD “Ascendant” will be released on March 22, 2019.




1) World Class Jazz Musician

Performed with my own Latin Jazz band “Chiemi Nakai Latin Jazz Project” at privileged Jazz clubs in NYC such as Blue Note, Jazz at Kitano and Subrosa total 10 times since 2002. And also performed in Japan once a year at a several cities such as Osaka, Tokyo, Kobe, Nagoya and Yonago total 5 times since 2011. Belgium Salsa Tour with Cuco Valoy band 1999, European Salsa Tour with Jimmy Bosch band 2002: France, Italy, Holland, Belgium, Canadian and Puerto Rican Tour with Jimmy Bosch band 2005.


2) CDs / Original work

Released own CDs; “bridges”(2008), “Transformation”(2013), “Ascendant”(2019)


3) Music Producer

Musical producer and arranger for Latin Jazz flutist Jeff Gray: CD “Migrations” release date August 2016. www.jeffgraymusic.com


4) Arranger’s work

Finale Software: approximately 50 arrangements, 80 transcriptions and 100 copies Salsa, Latin Jazz and Jazz by using Finale software since 2005. 


5) Latin Jazz Specialist  

Performing with various Latin Jazz, Cuban, Salsa and Brazilian bands in NYC at various venues such as concert halls: Weil Recital Hall in Carnegie Halls, clubs: Birdland, SOB's, Joe's Pub, Nuyorican Poet Cafe restaurants: Havana Central, Victor's Cafe, Willie's Steak House, festivals, outdoor events, public libraries, hospitals, community centers over 15 years.


6) Midtown Manhattan Gig (2011-2013, March 2016 - May 2018)

Performed at a Cuban restaurant where has been running business for 54 years in Midtown theatre district for 4 times nights a week with a trio band.


7) Piano Teacher

Private piano instructing for all levels, aged 5-60 years old since 1984.Specialty for students aged 15-18 years old.


8) Church Pianist/ Choir Director

Lead musician and choral director for churches in Manhattan and The Bronx, NYC New York City churches as a director of their choirs for leading music of Sunday services and accompanying the choir’s performances since 2005.