One Of The Most Exciting & Original Big Bands In Jazz
Greatness is greatness, whether on the East Coast, the West Coast, in Tokyo, or anywhere else in the world. I think you will find it in this magnificently variegated, consistently exciting example of one of outstanding jazz orchestras of our time." --Leonard Feather, original liner notes
In 1965, pianist Toshiko Akiyoshi returned to New York after three years in Japan. Soon thereafter, she formed an alliance with saxophonist Lew Tabackin that resulted in a short-lived quartet and a marriage that is thriving some 40 years later. In 1972, they moved to Los Angeles where they would soon change the course of their musical careers.
With the formation of their 16-piece orchestra in 1973, Toshiko's image shifted from being a great bop-inspired pianist to being a composer-arranger of great invention. Her scores are varied and rich in tonal colors, often drawing on traditional Japanese music as well as jazz. The band, loaded with the cream of the LA scene and led by Lew, swings the hell out of her inventive, intricate arrangements.
The orchestra thrived until 1981 when Lew and Toshiko relocated in New York and formed a new jazz orchestra. Keeping a big band together isn't easy, but this group's popularity in Japan, exposure in major festivals and flow of albums on RCA Victor kept them intact and constantly creative.
Their five studio albums (1974-77) form the great initial opus by this distinctive orchestra; they are Kogun, Long Yellow Road, Tales Of A Courtesan, Insights and March Of The Tadpoles.
This story appears courtesy of All About Jazz.
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