347

Toshiko Akiyoshi-Lew Tabackin Big Band: Mosaic Select

Ken Dryden By

Sign in to view read count
Pianist Toshiko Akiyoshi overcame numerous challenges during her long career, immigrating to a new country, establishing herself as both a top bandleader and composer/arranger, in addition to the difficulties of maintaining a large jazz ensemble. Her husband, tenor saxophonist and flutist Lew Tabackin, was a star soloist in her big band and he helped her recruit top musicians when she formed the band in 1973. Akiyoshi recorded numerous albums until disbanding the group in 2003, though many of these excellent recordings have unjustly lapsed from print.

Fortunately, Mosaic licensed five of her big band's RCA albums from the '70s, including Kogun, Long Yellow Road, Tales of a Courtesan, Insights and March of the Tadpoles, for this limited edition three-CD boxed set. While there is no mistaking Akiyoshi's bop pedigree (and particularly the influence of Bud Powell) in her rousing "Elegy," her introspective "Memory" reveals her Japanese roots with its novel use of the flute. The humorous up-tempo blues "Henpecked Old Man" is another highlight, with sparkling contributions by Tabackin, trumpeter Bobby Shew and alto saxophonist Dick Spencer.

Disc two showcases Tabackin on both flute and piccolo in the pianist's haunting "Tales of a Courtesan (Oirantan)," which also features some of her best ensemble writing. Her amusing blues "I Ain't Gonna Ask No More" is an unusual feature for contrabass trombone (an instrument rarely utilized, let alone used for solos in a big band), played by Phil Teele. The driving, insistent "Village" is a bustling affair that instead suggests a busy metropolis.

The final disc begins with the extended work "Minimata," a three-movement piece that represents the diversity of Akiyoshi's writing, combining both elements of traditional Japanese music and modern jazz. "March of the Tadpoles" is another cooker that quickly reveals itself to be a superb bop reinvention of "All the Things You Are." The surprising "Notorious Tourist From the East" actually incorporates flamenco rhythms in a hard-charging performance.

Akiyoshi's music has been so personal that others have been hesitant to explore it, though she has contributed many memorable works worthy of attention. Hopefully, this set will prompt additional reissues of her distinctive, unique music.

Track Listing: CD1: Elegy; Memory; Kogun; American Ballad; Henpecked Old Man; Long Yellow Road; The First Night; Opus Number Zero; Quadrille, Anyone?; Children In The Temple Ground. CD2: Since Perry / Yet Another Tear; Road Time Shuffle; Tales Of A Courtesan; Strive For Jive; I Ain't Gonna Ask No More; Interlude; Village; Studio J; Transcience; Sumie. CD3: Minamata: Peaceful Village / Prosperity & Consequence / Epilogue; March Of The Tadpoles; Mobile; Deracinated Flower; Yellow Is Mellow; Notorious Tourist From East.

Personnel: John Madrid, Don Rader, Mike Price, Stu Blumberg, Steven Huffseter, Richard Cooper: trumpets; Bobby Shew: trumpet, flugelhorn; Charles Loper, Jim Sawyer, Britt Woodman, Bruce Paulson, Bill Reichenbach: trombones; Phil Teele: bass and contrabass trombones; Dick Spencer, Gary Foster: alto saxophones, flutes, clarinets; Lew Tabackin: tenor sax, flute; Tom Peterson: tenor sax, soprano sax, flute, clarinet; Bill Perkins: baritone sax, soprano sax, bass clarinet; Toshiko Akiyoshi: piano; Gene Cherico and Don Baldwin: bass; Peter Donald: drums; Scott Elsworth: voice; Tokuko Kaga: vocal (CD1#10); Lynn Nicholson: trumpet, replacing Stu Blumberg (CD1#9, CD2#2); Joe Roccisano: alto sax, replacing Gary Foster (CD1#8); Chuck Flores: drums, replacing Peter Donald (CD1#8, CD2#2); King Errison: congas (CD2#7); Hiromitsu Katada: kakko (CD2#10); Jerry Hey: trumpet, replacing Richard Cooper (CD3#1); Michiru Mariano: vocal (CD3#1); Hisao Kanze: uta; Tadao Kamei: ohtsuzumi; Hayao Uzawa: kotsuzumi.

Title: Mosaic Select | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Mosaic Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Kurrent CD/LP/Track Review Kurrent
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: October 17, 2017
Read Duets CD/LP/Track Review Duets
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 17, 2017
Read Rev CD/LP/Track Review Rev
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 17, 2017
Read The Frequency Modulators Orchestra, Vol. 1 CD/LP/Track Review The Frequency Modulators Orchestra, Vol. 1
by Jim Olin
Published: October 17, 2017
Read The Adventures of Zodd Zundgren CD/LP/Track Review The Adventures of Zodd Zundgren
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 16, 2017
Read Any Other Way CD/LP/Track Review Any Other Way
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 16, 2017
Read "Pasar Klewer" CD/LP/Track Review Pasar Klewer
by Dave Wayne
Published: January 7, 2017
Read "Heart Of Gold: Live In Aarhus" CD/LP/Track Review Heart Of Gold: Live In Aarhus
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 19, 2016
Read "Little Giant Still Life" CD/LP/Track Review Little Giant Still Life
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 15, 2017
Read "Super Hi Fi Plays Nirvana" CD/LP/Track Review Super Hi Fi Plays Nirvana
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: March 22, 2017
Read "Vol. 1" CD/LP/Track Review Vol. 1
by Troy Dostert
Published: July 22, 2017
Read "Nightfall" CD/LP/Track Review Nightfall
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: October 11, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.