Toshiko Akiyoshi / Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra

Last Live in Blue Note Tokyo

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Toshiko Akiyoshi kept her jazz orchestra going for three decades before finally disbanding it at the end of 2003. Last Live in Blue Note Tokyo, recorded over two nights in November 2003, contains some of the band's final performances. Her playful "Lady Liberty" comes from Akiyoshi's 1986 "Liberty Suite," written in honor of the centennial of the Statue of Liberty. Her bustling "The Village" is a multifaceted extended work, including her infectious introduction on piano, Lew Tabackin's explosive tenor sax solo, and a conversational muted trombone solo in the mold of Tricky Sam Nanton. Tabackin's "Unrequited Love" is an impressive Far Eastern showcase for his magical flute. Akiyoshi's hard-charging bop vehicle "Chasing After Love" is a superb variation on the standard "Lover," featuring Tabackin's boisterous tenor. If Last Live in Blue Note Tokyo ends up being Toshiko Akiyoshi's final documentation of her orchestra, it will easily rank as one of the best recordings by a modern big band of its era. [Initially only available as a Japanese CD, Last Live in Blue Note Tokyo was reissued in the U.S. by Wounded Bird in 2011.]

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