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Akiko Tsuruga

She’s “Sweet and Funky,” she’s “Cute and Bad”. A Composer. A Performer extraordinaire. The legendary Dr. Lonnie Smith describes her this way: “Akiko's playing is like watching a flower blooming, a bird spreading her wings in the music world. Akiko is here to stay. ” Raised in Osaka, Japan, this talented musician began studying the organ at the age of three, at the famed Yamaha Music School. After discovering her passion for jazz very early on in her musical journey, Akiko launched her career immediately after graduating from the Osaka College of Music. While living and playing in Osaka, she had many opportunities to perform with world-renowned jazz musicians from the United States. Meeting Grady Tate, in particular, was a life-changing event for Akiko. ‘

After landing in the mecca for jazz, New York City, it didn’t take long for Akiko to make her mark - It was during these early years that she had the great pleasure of sitting in, playing gigs, and eventually recording with jazz greats such as Frank Wess, Jimmy Cobb, Grady Tate and other top NY musicians. Her reputation ultimately drew attention of Lou Donaldson as he chose her in 2006 as his quartet’s organist.

But it was the meeting of organ legend Dr. Lonnie Smith that proved to have the greatest impact on Akiko’s musical development and career. He became an important mentor to Akiko, and she considers him her greatest influence. She flourished and continued to be a constant draw on the NY jazz scene.

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Queen of the Organ - Lou Donaldson

Akiko's playing is like watching a flower blooming, a bird spreading her wings in the music world. - Dr. Lonnie Smith

“Akiko plays her personality...intense, positive, energetic and joyous. She plays to make others sound as good as they possibly can. It is always a joy to share the stage with her and play off of each other's energy.” I look forward to many more great musical experiences from her AND with her!” - Jeff Hamilton

Akiko Tsuruga ranks as one of the top organists around today. - Scott Yanow, All Music Guide

With a million dollar smile and stage presence that makes one glad to be in the audience, she is a killer player! - Jazz Mobile

Tsuruga investigates a banquet of moods — from slow and steamy to straight swing to down-home funk - - with verve, feeling, and persuasion

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Lioness: Pride and Joy

Posi-Tone Records


So Cute, So Bad

Self Produced


Oriental Express

18th and Vine


Sweet and Funky

18th & Vine




Jimmy Smith
organ, Hammond B3
Dr. Lonnie Smith
organ, Hammond B3
Jack McDuff
organ, Hammond B3
James Spaulding
saxophone, alto
KJ Denhert
guitar, acoustic
Bill Heid
organ, Hammond B3
Dave Braham
organ, Hammond B3

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