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Sumi Tonooka: NOW: Solo Live at the Howland Cultural Center

Read "NOW: Solo Live at the Howland Cultural Center" reviewed by Jeff Dayton-Johnson

There are some jazz players who suffer an unusually large gap between their credentials and their renown. Pianist Sumi Tonooka is a case in point. She studied with Mary Lou Williams, made her recording début with Detroit trumpeter Marcus Belgrave (of Motown/Tribe Records fame), and was part of Philly Joe Jones's band. Two especially strong albums--Long Ago Today (Artists Recording Collective, 2008) and Initiation (Artists Recording Collective, 2010, with saxophonist Erica Lindsay)--exhibited a distinctive Williams-like piano style, with strong original ...

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Sumi Tonooka: Now

Read "Now" reviewed by Dan McClenaghan

Sumi Tonooka is a resourceful jazz pianist who, along with alto saxophonist Chris Burnett and tenor saxophonist Erica Lindsay, started the Artists Recording Collective, offering up Initiation (2010), an excellent quartet outing which Tonooka co-led with Lindsay, and a more intimate Tonooka-led trio effort, Long Ago Today (2008). A former student of piano legend Mary Lou Williams and an alum of drummer Philly Joe Jones' band, the pianist knows how to work in an ensemble. But going it alone is ...

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Erica Lindsay / Sumi Tonooka: Initiation

Read "Initiation" reviewed by Jeff Dayton-Johnson

Long Ago Today (Artists Recording Collective, 2008), pianist Sumi Tonooka's previous release, generated two immediate reactions. First, it seemed astonishing that so singular, strong and distinctive a player could have been flying beneath the radar for so long. Second, the rhythm section--Tonooka, bassist Rufus Reid and drummer Bob Braye--played with an unusual empathy that held the promise of ever-richer future collaborations; sadly, such hopes were dashed when Braye died in 2007, after Long Ago Today was recorded.For both ...

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Sumi Tonooka: Long Ago Today

Read "Long Ago Today" reviewed by David Adler

Players as acclaimed as Uri Caine speak highly of their fellow Philadelphian, pianist Sumi Tonooka, who deserves a far wider hearing but works at her own pace. Long Ago Today, her first leader date in 10 years and her fifth since 1990, is accurately titled in the sense that it was recorded back in 2004. Sadly, drummer Bob Braye died in the interim. But thanks in no small part to him, the music from this trio session pulses with life. ...

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Sumi Tonooka Trio: Long Ago Today

Read "Long Ago Today" reviewed by Michael P. Gladstone

The name of Sumi Tonooka conjures two images. First, the name of a fine jazz pianist whose album, Taking Time (Candid, 1990), was retrieved from a cutout bin circa the year of its release. Secondly, around the same time, seeing the pianist perform, chairing a rhythm section that supported the formidable duo of trombonists Steve Turre and Fred Wesley. Talk about cooking sets--this was a ringside table just under the feet of this powerful group, where it was possible to ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Sumi Tonooka: Long Ago Today

Read "Long Ago Today" reviewed by Jeff Dayton-Johnson

Sumi Tonooka is a pianist from Philadelphia with some impressive credentials: she can recall playing with Philly Joe Jones and has counted upon the services of the redoubtable bassist Rufus Reid on each of her records. More important, she plays with a mature and entirely personal style that makes her a contender for the ranks of today's jazz piano elite.Long Ago Today is a trio outing that derives a lot of its magnetic appeal from the mysteries of ...


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