Toshiko Akiyoshi

At Top of the Gate

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The Toshiko Akiyoshi Quintet was recorded live during a 1969 concert at the Top of the Gate; her group includes her husband Lew Tabackin on tenor sax and flute, the late trumpeter Kenny Dorham (in one of his final recordings prior to his premature death in 1972), plus bassist Ron Carter and drummer Mickey Roker. The distortion on this live date is rather noticeable for a commercial recording made in the late 1960s (Dorham is particularly lost in the mix at times) but this is likely due to the limitations of the venue. "Opus No. Zero" almost sounds as if it would fit in the playbook of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, with its stop-and-go hard bop rhythm, while "The First Night" is a blend of hard bop and a beautiful line featuring Tabackin's flute in unison with his wife's piano. "Let's Roll in Sake" is a gospel-drenched number in the spirit of Cannonball Adderley. "Akiyoshi" also delves into bossa nova with arrangements of "How Insensitive" and "Morning of the Carnival," the latter featuring a potent solo by Dorham. Only reissued on CD in Japan during 2000, this release was already out of print less than a year later and will be difficult to find if one waits very long to search for it.

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