Mosaic Select: Toshiko Akiyoshi/Lew Tabackin Big Band


Sign in to view read count
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.
Copyright © 2021. All rights reserved.

Visit Website | Purchase

For interview requests or more information contact .

Post a comment


Shop Amazon

Jazz News


All About Jazz needs your support

All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded albums and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, limited reopenings and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary step that will help musicians and venues now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the sticky footer ad). Thank you!

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.