Akagi, Kei

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Akagi, Kei

Akagi, Kei, extremely versatile Japanese keyboard player with a highly individual style and lengthy resume; b. Japan, March 16, 1953. Akagi maintains his own sound no matter what the context. In the last two decades his credits include significant stints with Miles Davis, Stanley Turrentine, Art Pepper, Slide Hampton, Joe Farrell, Airto Moreira, James Newton, Sadao Wa-tanabe, and fusion stalwarts Al DiMeola, Jean-Luc Ponty, and Allan Holdsworth. First influenced by Bud Powell, Akagi came of age listening to everyone from Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans, and Sonny Rollins to late Coltrane and Miles’s seminal fusion. His family moved to the U.S. when he was four and he spent his late teens back in Japan, playing guitar and studying composition at the International Christian Univ. in Tokyo. Returning to the States, he became a philosophy grad student at the Univ. of Calif., Santa Barbara, but after two years decided to play music full-time. After early gigs with Blue Mitchell, Art Pepper, and Eddie Harris, Akagi hooked up with Airto and Flora Purim in 1979 and stayed with them until 1985. He spent two years with Miles (1990–91) and much of the rest of the decade with Turrentine. Based in Los Angeles, Akagi is a fine composer who writes angular, dramatic tunes. Akagi’s first album was Symphonic FusionThe Earth, a five-part funk-jazz concerto recorded in the early 1980s for a Japanese label.


Symphonic Fusion—The Earth (1980); Mirror Puzzle (1994); Sound Circle (1995).

—Andrew Gilbert