Toshiko Akiyoshi was born more then 76 years ago in Dairen, China. She studied classical music and moved to Japan in 1947 where she turned to jazz music. When Oscar Peterson visited Japan he liked her piano playing and encouraged her to go to Berklee College of Music in Boston (US) where she became a bop pianist. She married Charlie Mariano and played in his bands. In 1973 she met Lew Tabackin who became her second husband. The albums they made together became hits in Japan and in 1980 Tabackin and Akiyoshi started a big band. Toshiko made the arrangements in the Gil Evans - Thad Jones tradition. In 1985 they formed the Toshiko Akiyoshi New York Jazz Orchestra.
Last night I found a CD in my CD player called Time Stream by Toshiko Akiyoshi. It was recorded ten years ago with her trio, Toshiko Akiyoshi (p) - George Mraz (b) - Lewis Nash (dm), and several guests like Jim Snidero on alto, Gary Foster on alto and of course her husband Lew Tabackin on tenor and flute. This album sounds great - Toshiko playes in a very strong bop piano tradition which I like very much and the rhythm section belongs to the best there is. The arrangements are well done with some oriental touches now and then which makes it full of surprises and varied.
I heard her in a solo concert in December 2001 at the Porgy en Bess jazz club in Terneuzen ( The Netherlands) where she impressed me with her Bud Powell piano style. She told us about her meetings and friendship with Bud Powell when she was in Paris around 1960. After the concert she autographed her CD for me and we had some small talk about the concert. I remember she set apart in her dressing-room and talked to us one-by-one.
Her piano playing and the meeting in Terneuzen impressed me and by listening to the music last night I got that same experience again.
Thanks to New Groove Dictionary of Jazz
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