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Canadian Heritage

Toshiko Akiyoshi


TOSHIKO AKIYOSHI (pianist, composer, arranger, bandleader) was born December 12, 1929 in Liaoyang, Manchuria to Japanese emigrants. Early childhood interest in piano led her to performing professionally and being discovered by Oscar Peterson on a tour to Japan in 1952, recording for Norman Granz and becoming the first Japanese student at the Berklee College of Music. A top tier pianist working in Boston and later New York she met and married saxophonist Lew Tabackin (her second husband) forming the highly successful Toshiko Akiyoshi- Lew Tabackin Big Band, later known as the Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra. Following in the Duke Ellington mode, the band integrates each musicians’ style and individuality mixing contemporary, complex lines and elements of Asian music, earning critical acclaim and 14 Grammy nominations since 1976.