Toshiko Akiyoshi / Leon Sash

Toshiko Akiyoshi & Leon Sash at Newport

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Toshiko Akiyoshi was a name still fairly new to American jazz fans by the time she was recorded during the 1957 Newport Jazz Festival. Joined by bassist Gene Cherico and drummer Jake Hanna, her enjoyable set includes two originals: a compelling blend of bop and Asian influences in "Between Me and Myself," and the straight-ahead "Blues for Toshiko." Akiyoshi is one of the rare musicians who resists playing "I'll Remember April" at a racehorse tempo, instead choosing a deliberate approach which emphasizes the lyricism of this time-tested standard. Instead, she romps through "Lover" in a brisk arrangement. The second set features Leon Sash, a blind accordion player who achieved wide acclaim. His wife, Lee Morgan, plays bass, with Ted Robinson doubling on tenor sax and clarinet, and Roger Price on drums. Although Sash ranks alongside Mat Mathews as a jazz accordion player, the instrument never found a wide audience among jazz enthusiasts. "Sash-Kebap" features Robinson's smoking tenor, though Sash's instrument is not picked up very cleanly by the microphones on this outdoor stage, though the exciting theme may cause more than a few listeners to imagine what it would have sounded like with a piano taking the place of the accordion. This long unavailable Verve LP will be hard to acquire.

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