WORKS: Toshiko Akiyoshi
PERFORMER: Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra including Toshiko Akiyoshi (p, arr); Lew Tabackin (ts, principal soloist)
CATALOGUE NO: 477800 2
This remarkable pianist, composer and arranger made her debut as a big band leader with Long Yellow Road (RCA) in 1974. Since then she has made over 16 albums, but few have been released in Europe, where she still remains relatively unknown. Akiyoshi is one of a select few composer/orch es t ra tors in jazz who can be mentioned in the same breath as Duke Ellington.
Her highly personal orchestral colours (including a frequently used combination of clarinets and flutes), her detailed vertical voicings (running counter to the thread of linear, horizontal voicings) lend great depth to her orchestrations. Her mastery of extended forms, revealed in ‘Desert Lady-Fantasy’, her rich melodic logic wedded to a dazzling orchestral imagination in ‘Harlequin Tears’, ‘Hanging Loose’ and ‘Broken Dreams’, far transcend the simplistic brass-and-reeds patterns that are so often associated with big band jazz. Stuart Nicholson