Toshiko Akiyoshi


Although born in Manchuria, Akiyoshi (1929 - present) moved with her family back to Beppu after the cessation of hostilities in 1945. She was introduced to Jazz by a local music collector and began her career as a jazz pianist playing to American troops stationed in the city. Moving to Tokyo she caught the attention of Oscar Peterson in 1953, who heard her playing in a club, and with his backing and his rhythm section recorded her first album, Toshiko. After being given a scholarship to study jazz at the Berklee College of Music, she moved to the USA in 1956 and by the 1960s was playing with the jazz greats such as Charles Mingus. Akiyoshi spent the rest of her career, which was noted for the big bands she created with her husband Lew Tabackin, in the USA. Along the way she received 14 Grammy Award nominations. Her final appearance with her big band was at the Birdland club in 2003. The following year she performed with her husband for the people of Oita at Beppu’s Public Hall.

Japan, Oita, 別府市

At a glance

One of Japan's post-war Jazz greats.

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