Jazz drummer Ai Murakami was born in Japan, and has been fascinated by rhythm ever since she played taiko (Japanese drums) at the age of four. When she heard Thelonious Monk’s “Monk’s Dream” for the first time, she fell in love with his music immediately and immersed herself in jazz.
She started her professional career while at Waseda University, and moved to New York city in 1998. Soon after her arriving, she found her musical home, Smalls Jazz Club, located in Greenwich Village, and quickly met like-minded musicians. Since then, she has dedicated herself to pursuing her musical passion.
Her debut album Conception, released from Gut String Records in November 2014, features Zaid Nasser, Tardo Hammer and Hassan Shakur (J.J. Wiggins) and has received outstanding reviews from the jazz critics.
"Murakami is crisp and selective, but her breaks insert force into all the right places. She is the first reason Conception swings like crazy."
"Her interpretations prove once again two things about bebop: Its complex energy is unique in its capacity to communicate joy, and its forms are inexhaustible in their openness to individual expression."
Tom Conrad, Stereophile Magazine
"The two extended solos she takes &are deliciously melodic displays of accents, rolls, and rimshots compositionally deep, as one motif naturally builds into the next. Throughout this session, she plays for the comfort of the band, creating a flowing swing tapestry for the quartet."
Michael Steinman, Jazz Lives
Murakami has studied privately with Leroy Williams, Jimmy Wormworth, Billy Kaye, Mark Taylor, and Tim Pleasant, and has also been greatly influenced by Jimmy Lovelace and Kalil Madi.
She has appeared in many of New York’s renowned jazz venues, such as Blue Note NY, Smalls Jazz Club, Fat Cat, Smoke to name a few. Murakami has also performed at United Nations HQ and the American Museum of Natural History. The WKCR, Columbia University's renowned radio station has featured Ai Murakami on Musician's Show in Feb 2018.
Her Japan tour in October 2018 was celebration of her 20th anniversary of playing jazz in New York. She performed in Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and her hometown Oita. In 2019, She did another successful Japan tour and performed in Tokyo, Saitama, Fukuoka & Oita. She also appeared in Oita Yumeiro Music Festival.
Currently, Murakami has been actively performing in NYC. She is also one of the core members of the organization called Gotham Yard Bird Sanctuary (GYS) founded by Mitchell Borden, the original founder of legendary Smalls jazz club & Fat cat, and Rie Yamaguchi, jazz musician. GYS aims to provide free to all live Jazz Performances in various places all over NYC.
She has been fortunate enough to perform with many notable musicians, including legendary pianist Gil Coggins, Charles Davis, Bill Easely, Warren Vache, John Mosca, Kent Glenn, Danny Hayes, Chris Flory, Joe Cohn, Dwayne Clemmons, Zaid Nasser, Joe Magnarelli, Grant Stewart, Chris Byars, Tardo Hammer, Michael Kanan, Sacha Perry, Hassan Shakur(J.J. Wiggins), Lee Hudson, Tyler Mitchell, Ari Roland, Neal Miner, David Wong, Marion Cowings, Myrna Lake, Ruth Blisbane, and others.