Toshiko Akiyoshi

Toshiko Akiyoshi: Her Trio, Her Quartet

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Toshiko Akiyoshi was still rather new on the American jazz scene when she recorded Her Trio, Her Quartet for the Storyville label in the mid-'50s. On five of the eight selections, she leads a quartet with alto saxophonist Boots Mussilli, former Dave Brubeck sideman Wyatt Reuther on bass, and drummer Ed Thigpen. Akiyoshi is still heavily influenced by Bud Powell at this point in her career, though she is no mere mimic of the great bop pianist. She navigates J.J. Johnson's challenging "Kelo" with finesse, while offering a fresh treatment of "All the Things You Are" that omits the introductory tag added by Dizzy Gillespie which became mandatory for nearly all bop interpreters of the standard. She gallops through "I Remember April," with Mussilli sounding very modern and not like a typical Charlie Parker clone in that era.

For the trio numbers, she utilizes Oscar Pettiford and Roy Haynes. Oddly enough, her "Pea, Bee and Lee" is based upon the chord changes to "All the Things You Are," while "Thou Swell" is easily the most conservative arrangement of the session. The Japanese CD reissue released by Tokuma in 1997 sounds as if it was dubbed from an LP rather than the original masters, as surface noise is briefly audible in spots. These are strong performances by Toshiko Akiyoshi made long before she earned widespread fame, but even this import CD has lapsed from print, making it a rather difficult release to acquire in any format.

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