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Japanese jazz band leader with Chinese roots

EIGHTY-YEAR-OLD Japanese jazz pianist Toshiko Akiyoshi and her jazz orchestra will perform on Sunday with tenor saxophone and flutist Lew Tabackin.

Tabackin, her husband, is also cofounder of the band.

The performance of 16 works at the Shanghai Oriental Art Center will be Akiyoshi's first Shanghai concert; all of the works are her adaptations and some include Chinese elements.

The jazz performance will feature three noted Chinese folk musicians. Akiyoshi's vocalist daughter, Monday Michiru, will also perform.

The Japanese American pianist, composer, arranger and band leader is one of the very few successful female instrumentalists of her generation in jazz. She has received 14 Grammy nominations for her compositions.

She founded the Toshiko Akiyoshi Orchestra in 1983 to perform her own works.

Born in China's Liaoning Province, Akiyoshi has always had warm feelings for China where she first played the piano.

Her work "Long Yellow Road" evokes her affections for the country. "After Mr Deng" evokes the enthusiasm surrounding the visit to the United States of late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping.

"My Teacher Mr Yang" was written in 1993 when she returned to China and met her first piano teacher, Yang Xiaoyi.

She has created jazz versions of traditional Chinese folk music, using instruments like erhu (two-string fiddle) and guzheng (zither-like instrument).

In her Shanghai performance, she will present the jazz version of "Kangding Love Song" from Sichuan Province.

"I believe the new 'Kongding Love Song' will give fresh impressions and a touching moment," she said.

Her orchestra will cooperate with erhu player Wang Ying, guzheng player Fan Ran and folk percussion player Wu Xiaoguang.

Date: October 17, 7:30pm

Venue: Shanghai Oriental Art Center

Address: 425 Dingxiang Rd.

Tickets: 200-800yuan

Tel: 6252-6103


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