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Institute of Jazz Studies Presents World-Renowned Pianist and Bandleader Toshiko Akiyoshi

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On Wednesday, March 23, 2016, legendary jazz pianist and bandleader Toshiko Akiyoshi will perform at Rutgers University–Newark with her band-mates: virtuoso tenor saxophonist and flutist Lew Tabackin (Akiyoshi's husband), bassist Yasushi Nakamura, and drummer Mark Taylor. The concert will take place in the Great Hall of 15 Washington Street, Newark, NJ, 2:30-4 p.m.

This event, which is free and open to the public, is presented by the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University–Newark. For more concert information, contact Vincent Pelote at pelote@rutgers.edu or 973-353-5595.

To view a video of Akiyoshi performing at the Monterey Jazz Festival, click here.

About Toshiko Akiyoshi
Toshiko Akiyoshi, a National Endowment of the Arts Jazz Master and 14-time Grammy Award-nominee, is famous for incorporating cross-cultural references in her approach to jazz music. As stated in the Los Angeles Times, "Genius is a term tossed around too often by hucksters, but if ever it was merited, this unique composer-arranger-pianist-bandleader deserves it." (Leonard Feather)

Akiyoshi’s contributions to the jazz world have evolved through a series of events that started with a piano-loving Japanese girl in China and brought her to prominence as an unparalleled pianist, composer, and leader of the Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra. Her recordings have garnered numerous awards and honors. After she began playing professionally, Akiyoshi was discovered by pianist Oscar Peterson in 1952 during the Norman Granz Jazz at the Philharmonic tour of Japan. On Peterson’s recommendation, she recorded for Granz and came to the United States to study at the Berklee School of Music in Boston.

Akiyoshi’s years in Boston, and later in New York, helped her develop into a first class pianist. Akiyoshi’s interest in composing and arranging was put into action when she moved to Los Angeles in 1972 with her husband, saxophonist/flutist Lew Tabackin. The following year they formed a renowned big band—the Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra featuring Lew Tabackin. The band, which began as a vehicle for Akiyoshi's own compositions, gained a reputation as one of the most excellent and innovative big bands in jazz.

Akiyoshi’s works have been performed by the North Carolina Symphony Orchestra, the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra, and the Portland Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Maestro James De Priest. In 1996, she realized a years-long dream when she completed her autobiography, Life With Jazz, now in its fifth printing. Among the many honors she has received are the Shijahosho (1999, from the Emperor of Japan); the Japan Foundation Award; Order of the Rising Sun; Gold Rays with Rosetta (2004, from the Emperor of Japan); and the Asahi Award (2005, from the Asahi Shimbun newspaper). In 2002 Akiyoshi retired her big band projects and returned to the piano, touring as a trio and sometimes a quartet with her husband.

Photo of Toshiko Akiyoshi, courtesy of Toshiko Akiyoshi