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Album Review

It figured that Toshiko Akiyoshi would come up with one of the more individual solo albums in the Maybeck series (of which this is Vol. 36). Like most of her colleagues, she comes from out of the bop school, yet her playing here doesn't sound much like anyone else's. She has her own distinct ideas and she is especially compelling when her hands fly off in multiple directions. In Akiyoshi's "The Village," her left hand plays a difficult revolving pattern independent of the right; "Con Alma" is a fascinating contrapuntal tour de force; "Come Sunday" has wide chord voicings that may be unique to this series, and "Old Devil Moon" has a touch of Latin jazz in her powerful bass-clef accompaniment. She defies jazz fashion a bit by taking on "It Was a Very Good Year" — a folk song before Sinatra got a hold of it — though its modal harmonies nearly defeat her attempt to turn it into a showpiece. The microphones at Maybeck also catch her Jarrett-like scatting all too clearly, but that's only a minor distraction. ~ Richard S. Ginell, Rovi


Born: 12 December 1929 in Dairen, China

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

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...
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Toshiko Akiyoshi Recital - EP, Toshiko Akiyoshi
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