Toshiko Akiyoshi-Lew Tabackin Big Band

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Toshiko Akiyoshi co-led (with her husband Lew Tabackin) one of the most exciting post-bop bands for several decades until finally disbanding it early in the 21st century. These 1976 studio sessions make up one of her best overall albums, which includes performances of four originals. "Studio J" actually dates from 1957, while the pianist was studying at Berklee, and was originally recorded in a trio setting. Akiyoshi stretches out for several choruses, and Bill Reichenbach contributes a pair of solid trombone solos. "Transience" is a richly textured ballad that showcases baritone saxophonist Bill Perkins, trombonist Britt Woodman (a Duke Ellington alum), and Gary Foster on soprano sax. "Sumie" features Tabackin's mesmerizing flute (an instrument for which he should receive wider acclaim); he also uses a piccolo later in the piece. "Minamata" is an elaborate three-part suite that features a 13-year-old vocalist (Michiru Mariano), a fine fl├╝gelhorn solo by Bobby Shew, and narration by several Japanese artists, resulting in a stunning tone poem. Sadly, this rewarding RCA LP has not been reissued in the United States, though it was put out by BMG in Europe in 2002.

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