The legendary Dr. Lonnie Smith describes organist Akiko Tsuruga this way: “Akiko’s playing is like watching a flower blooming, a bird spreading her wings in the music world. Akiko is here to stay.” Raised in Osaka, Japan, Akiko began studying the organ at the age of three. After discovering her passion for jazz early on, she launched her career immediately after graduating from the Osaka College of Music. While playing in Osaka she had been inspired by meeting many great American musicians who came through on tour, especially Grady Tate. She moved to New York City, and eventually landed work with Frank Wess, Jimmy Cobb, and Lou Donaldson, who chose her in 2006 as his quartet’s organist. But it was meeting organ legend Dr. Lonnie Smith that proved to have the greatest impact on Akiko’s musical development and career. He became an important mentor, and she considers him her greatest influence. Akiko has ten albums as a leader to her credit, both in the U.S. and Japan. Since her debut album in the U.S., “Sweet and Funky”, was selected as a “Best album of 2007” in Downbeat, her albums have consistently placed in the top ten on the National Radio Jazz Chart. Akiko received “Swing Journal Rising Star Award” (Japan) in 2010, Hot House Magazine (NYC) “Best Organist” in 2017 and the Downbeat Critics Poll “Rising Star Organ” in 2020.
This event will stream on the Jazz Foundation and Jazz Museum Facebook pages and the Museum YouTube Channel.
This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature and by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and by the Howard Gilman Foundation.
National Jazz Museum in Harlem
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