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Toshiko Akiyoshi Tickets

Toshiko Akiyoshi Tickets
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Toshiko Akiyoshi is a Japanese American jazz pianist, composer/arranger and bandleader. Among a very few successful female instrumentalists of her generation in jazz, she is also recognized as a major figure in jazz composition. Toshiko Akiyoshi was born in Manchuria, China, and was considering a career in medicine when her family returned to live in Japan. "Japan was still heavily occupied then, and our resort city of Beppu was flooded with soldiers. One day I happened to pass one of the many dance halls that were set up for the occupation soldiers, and I noticed a sign: 'Pianist wanted'." Toshiko, who had some training as a classical pianist went in, and the manager asked her to start right away. Toshiko's family wasn't thrilled with the idea, but they finally agreed that she could play until the school year began. "But March came and went," she remembers, "and no one noticed. I just kept playing." Toshiko soon grew restless and moved to Tokyo, where there was an active jazz scene. One thing led to another, and she started her own group in 1952. "It was an exciting time. Many jazz giants were touring Japan, and many of the would stop by the club, and we'd play together." It was though these musicians that she learned about the Berklee School of Music in Boston. In 1953, during Norman Granz's JATP (Jazz At The Philaharmonic) tour of Japan, Toshiko was spotted by Oscar Peterson, who told Granz she was "the greatest female jazz pianist" he'd ever heard. This lead to Toshiko's first recording, accompanied by Peterson's rhythm section. Later she was accepted at Berklee, and travelled to the U.S. for the first time. Eventually, Toshiko went on to record a number of albums as both a solo pianist and with small groups. In 1973, Toshiko started up what she then thought of as a "rehearsal band," which ultimately became the Toshiko Akiyoshi - Lew Tabackin Big Band. This orchestra has since gone on to garner nine Grammy nominations (Toshiko was also nominated three times as Arranger), and has earned top place numerous times in Down Beat and other major jazz polls in the U.S and abroad. The Toshiko Akiyoshi - Lew Tabackin Big Band's first album, Kogun is recognize as one of the best selling big band jazz albums ever. Since then, 11 albums have been issued on RCA, JAM and Toshiko's own label, Ascent; these include Tales of a Courtesan, Wishing Peace, Farewell to Mingus, European Memoirs, and Insights. Her work has also received two silver and two gold awards from the prestigious Swing Journal of Japan. (2) As an arranger, Toshiko Akiyoshi (influenced originally by Gil Evans and Thad Jones) has been particularly notable for incorporating elements of traditional Japanese music into her otherwise bop-ish charts. A strong (and underrated) pianist in the Bud Powell tradition, Akiyoshi was born in China but moved to Japan in 1946. She played locally (Sadao Watanabe was among her sidemen) and, after being noticed and encouraged by Oscar Peterson, studied at Berklee during 1956-1959. Married for a time to altoist Charlie Mariano, she co-led the Toshiko Mariano Quartet in the early '60s. After working with Charles Mingus in 1962 (including participating in his ill-fated Town Hall Concert), Toshiko returned to Japan for three years. Back in New York by 1965, she did a radio series and formed a quartet with her second husband, Lew Tabackin, in 1970. After moving to Los Angeles in 1972, Toshiko Akiyoshi put together her very impressive big band which featured such fine soloists as Bobby Shew, Gary Foster, and Tabackin. They recorded several notable albums before Akiyoshi decided, in 1981, to move to New York. Since their relocation, Akiyoshi and Tabackin have both been quite active although her re-formed big band has actually received less publicity than it did in L.A. She ranks as one of the top jazz arrangers of the past several decades. ~ Scott Yanow Read more on User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply.