AKIKO has been a mainstay on the New York jazz scene since 2001.
Being of Japanese origin, this talented musician began playing the Organ at the age of three. She launched her career in jazz immediately after graduating from the Osaka College of Music. While living in Osaka, she had opportunities to play with world-renowned jazz musicians from the United States. Grady Tate, in particular, had the strongest influence on her professional career and convinced her to move to the U. S, and performed on her Japanese debut album. Dr. Lonnie Smith is one of Akiko’s greatest mentors, and she considers him as her biggest influence. Her talent also drew Lou Donaldson’s attention, and soon he chose her (2007) as his quartet’s organist.
After landing in the mecca for jazz, New York City, it didn’t take long for AKIKO to
make her mark. She was embraced not only audiences but by her fellow musicians as one of the top organ players in the city. Early in her New York career, she had the great pleasured to play several gigs with Frank Wess and Jimmy Cobb. Also, in this time she established herself as a featured Organist at all of the great Organ Clubs in New York City and along the East Coast. While she has made a great reputation performing with her own band, more recently headliner at the Blue Note in Tokyo, and the Jakarta jazz festival, she has also enhanced her name on the jazz scene working with Lou at Carnegie Hall, and more recently Jeff Hamilton, playing at jazz festivals and jazz clubs all over the world, including tours in Japan, Asia and Europe. Being a regular and crowd favorite at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola in Jazz at Lincoln Center, AKIKO has headlined many well-known jazz venues, the Blue Note, Smalls, Green mill in Chicago, Yoshi's in Oakland, CA, Rochester International Jazz Festival, Iowa City Jazz Festival Java Jazz Festival (Indonesia) ,among others.
AKIKO has released five albums in Japan and four in the U.S. Her debut album in the
U.S “Sweet and Funky” selected as a “Best album on 2007” in Down Beat Magazine. Akiko has been a regular in the DownBeat magazine critics poll since 2008. In 2016, she placed 4th in the Rising Star category of the magazine along with ranking in the readers poll. DownBeat Magazine and Keyboard Magazine have featured articles on Akiko. Her forth US album, “Sakura” released in 2012 scored 7th on the national Jazz radio chart. Her 4th album in US “Commencement” ranked 4th in the Jazz Week Chart. AKIKO is scheduled to do a live record date on January 22, 2017 at Alvas Showroom in Los Angeles, with Jeff Hamilton (Drums) and Graham Dechter (Guitar). This album will be released to both in the U.S. and in Japan in April 2017.
Being the most reputable and attractive organist, AKIKO is at the center of the New York
scene. She can be seen around town as a leader or sideman with musicians such as Jeff Hamilton, Jimmy Cobb, Louis Hayes, Lewis Nash, Jerry Weldon, Eric Alexander and Joe Magnarelli and many others. As her mentor, the legendary Dr. Lonnie Smith describes, “Akiko's playing is like watching a flower blooming, a bird spreading her wings in the music world. Akiko is here to stay.” Her future is bright and promising.
Akiko Tsuruga website: www.akikojazz.com