Hailing from Osaka, Japan, the Hammond organist, Akiko Tsuruga has been a mainstay in the New York jazz scene since 2001. This talented young organist began playing the organ at the age of three and launched her career in jazz immediately after graduating from the Osaka College of Music. While living in Osaka, she had the opportunity to play with numerous world-renowned jazz musicians from the United States, such as Roy Hargrove, Jeff Tain Watts, and Grady Tate, to name just a few. Grady Tate, in particular, had the strongest influence on her decision to become a professional musician. Along with her teacher, Dr. Lonnie Smith Akiko considers him to be one of her greatest mentors, and perhaps the musician she admires the most. Grady performed on her Japanese debut album and also convinced her to move to the United States.
After landing in the mecca of jazz, New York City, it didnt take long for Akiko to make her mark. She was embraced by her fellow musicians and recognized as one of the top organ players in the city. A regular and crowd favorite at Dizzys Club Coca Cola in Jazz at Lincoln Center, Akiko has headlined many well-known jazz venues, such as Blue Note, Birdland, Smoke, Green Mill in Chicago, and Yoshis in Oakland, CA.
Akikos first two US releases from 18th & Vine Records, both Sweet and Funky and Oriental Express have been ranked in the national jazz radio charts with in Top 20. In a 2010s Down Beat magazine critics poll Akiko was ranked in 6th place in the Rising Star category, and she became a regular on Down Beat Poll since then. Her third US release album, Sakura from American Showplace Music Records has been released on February 14, 2012, and scored #7 on the national Jazz radio chart, the highest rank out of her three US releases. Her CD release party was held at Dizzys Club Coca Cola in New York in March 19, and the show was all sold out in both sets.
She is keeping herself busy between her own group and Lou Donaldson Quartet. Recently she toured Japan and Europe with Lou Donaldson from March through June, and she will once again go on the road in this summer touring the US with both Lou Donaldson Quartet and her own group. As her mentor, the legendary Dr. Lonnie Smith describes she is spreading her wings in the music world, and her future is bright and promising.