Toshiko Akiyoshi / Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra

The Four Seasons

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Toshiko Akiyoshi's Four Seasons is not a jazz treatment of Vivaldi's famous classical work, but instead consists of arrangements of nine seasonal songs, with most have them having the season itself in the title. Well accompanied by bassist George Mraz and drummer Lewis Nash, Akiyoshi shows an adventurous spirit. Starting with a loping bossa nova treatment of Richard Rodgers' usually placid, bittersweet "Spring Is Here," the pianist immediately signals that she's looking in new directions. She adds a dark, funeral-like rhythm to George Gershwin's "Summer Time," while her own "Autumn Sea" is like a mini-suite, changing direction and refusing to be stylistically pigeon-holed. But it is the last track that proves to be the most fun. Lew Tabackin, Akiyoshi's husband, suggested Mel Brooks' "Spring Time for Hitler," written for the loopy musical comedy The Producers. She tackles it at a furious tempo, suggesting Bud Powell at the peak of his powers.

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