Akiyoshi, Toshiko (1929–)

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Akiyoshi, Toshiko (1929–)

Japanese-American jazz pianist, composer, and bandleader. Born in Darien, Manchuria (province of China then controlled by the Japanese), Dec 12, 1929; dau. of a Japanese owner of a textile company and steel mill; m. Stan Kenton (bandleader and saxophonist; div. in mid-1960s); m. Lew Tabackin (sax player), 1969.

At 16, played for a dance band; played piano with 3 symphony orchestras and 10 Tokyo jazz groups before forming own jazz combo (1952); became highest paid studio musician in Japan; received scholarship to Berklee, Boston's jazz college; known for unique style which has cross-pollination of cultures; composed works including Kogun (which combined pretaped percussion sounds with vocal cries from Japanese Noh drama) and Children in the Temple Ground (which begins with long, vocal wails in Japanese blended with a flute and orchestra accompanied by piano); known for work which reflects social themes, such as Tales of a Courtesan and Minamata (considered by some her crowning achievement); credited with establishing the international nature of jazz. Nominated for Grammy awards for her albums (1976 and 1977).

See also Women in World History.

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Akiyoshi, Toshiko (1929–)

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