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Toshiko Akiyoshi Ends Big Band

Fresh off the critical success of their latest CD, Hiroshima: Rising From the Abyss (True Life), Toshiko Akiyoshi (pictured) and her Jazz Orchestra will perform a farewell concert on October 17 at Carnegie Hall. It will mark the end of 30 years of work.

Akiyoshi, who turns 74 on December 12 this year, said in a statement, “I started my career as a pianist, and I want to devote my remaining years to composing and playing in solo and small group formats. I am artistically challenged by this decision and want to become a better pianist and for me this is the way.”

The pianist-composer returns to Carnegie Hall for the first time since 1991, when the Jazz Orchestra recorded its Grammy-nominated live album Carnegie Hall Concert. “I have played in all the major New York concert halls,” she says, “but Carnegie Hall remains the gold standard.” Her hubby, tenor saxophonist and flutist Lew Tabackin, agrees: “The band’s first concert performance after arriving from Los Angeles [in 1981] was at Carnegie Hall, and oftentimes over our long career we have chosen the concert hall setting for the debut or recasting of major compositional works.”

Hiroshima: Rising From the Abyss‘s centerpiece composition will be performed for the first time in its entirety outside of Japan. Korean traditional flutist Won Jang-Hyun joins the Orchestra for the evening, and Dr. Billy Taylor will serve as concert host. Premiered and recorded at a Hiroshima concert on August 6, 2001 (the anniversary of the day the bomb fell), the composition is an extended piece in three parts: Futility, Tragedy, Survivor Tales and Hope.

As Akiyoshi explains in Hiroshima‘s liner notes, this project was suggested to her and later commissioned by a Buddhist priest and jazz fan who hailed from the city. Akiyoshi didn’t feel she could compose anything about this fateful day until she saw a photograph taken at the time of a young woman emerging from a bomb shelter “with beautiful eyes full of hope.”

For more information on Akiyoshi, check out these sites: and

Tickets to the Toshiko Akiyoshi and her Jazz Orchestra’s final concert are available at the Carnegie Hall box office (57th Street and 7th Avenue) or by calling 212-247-7800. Limited VIP patron seats range from $100 to $250. Ticket prices for the general public are $40, $25, $20 and $12 for students with ID at box office only. Tickets may also be purchased online at after 8/18.

Originally Published