"Queen of the Organ"
– Lou Donaldson
"Akiko's playing is like watching a flower blooming, a bird spreading her wings in the music world. Akiko is here to stay. Making Japan proud after just a few short years in the USA!
Highly recommended. I can't recommend him highly enough."
– Dr. Lonnie Smith
"Akiko plays her personality...intense, positive, energetic and joyous. She plays to make others sound as good as they possibly can. It is always a joy to share the stage with her and play off of each other's energy." I look forward to many more great musical experiences from her AND with her! "
– Jeff Hamilton
"One of the most talked-about and acclaimed jazz organists on the scene today!" – Allegro Music
"With a million dollar smile and stage presence that makes one glad to be in the audience,
she is a killer player!" – Jazz Mobile
"She's the real deal." – Jazz Times
AKIKO has been a mainstay on the New York jazz scene since 2001.
Being of Japanese origin, this talented musician began playing the Organ at the age of three. She launched her career in jazz immediately after graduating from the Osaka College of Music. While living in Osaka, she had opportunities to play with world-renowned jazz musicians from the United States. Grady Tate, in particular, had the strongest influence on her professional career and convinced her to move to the U. S, and performed on her Japanese debut album. Dr. Lonnie Smith is one of Akiko’s greatest mentors, and she considers him as her biggest influence. Her talent also drew Lou Donaldson’s attention, and soon he chose her (2007) as his quartet’s organist.
After landing in the mecca for jazz, New York City, it didn’t take long for AKIKO to
make her mark. She was embraced not only audiences but by her fellow musicians as one of the top organ players in the city. Early in her New York career, she had the great pleasured to play several gigs with Frank Wess and Jimmy Cobb. Also, in this time, she established herself as a featured Organist at all of the great Organ Clubs in New York City and along the East Coast. While she has made a great reputation performing with her own band, more recently headliner at the Blue Note in Tokyo, and the Jakarta jazz festival, she has also enhanced her name on the jazz scene working with Lou at Carnegie Hall, and more recently Jeff Hamilton, playing at jazz festivals and jazz clubs all over the world, including tours in Japan and Europe. Being a regular and crowd favorite at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola in Jazz at Lincoln Center, Akiko has headlined many well-known jazz venues, as Blue Note, Smalls, the Green mill in Chicago, Yoshi's in Oakland, CA, and Pine Grill Reunion in Buffalo, NY among others.
AKIKO has released five albums in Japan and four in the U.S. Both of her first two
US releases, “Sweet and Funky” and “Oriental Express” (18th & Vine Records), have ranked within top 20 on the national jazz radio charts. Akiko has been regular on the DownBeat magazine critics poll since 2008. In 2012, she placed 6th in the Rising Star category of the magazine along with ranking in the readers poll. DownBeat Magazine and Keyboard Magazine have featured articles on Akiko. Her third US album, “Sakura” released in 2012 scored 7th on the national Jazz radio chart. Her latest album, “Commencement”, released on August 20th, 2014 both in the U.S. and
in Japan, ranked 4th in the Jazz Week Chart. Jeff Hamilton (drums) and John Hart (guitar) performed on it. The CD release tour is scheduled in Japan.
Being the most reputable and attractive organist, AKIKO is at the center of the New York scene. She can be seen around town as a leader or sideman with musicians such as Jeff Hamilton, Jimmy Cobb, Lewis Nash, Jerry Weldon, Eric Alexander and Joe Magnarelli and many others. As her mentor, the legendary Dr. Lonnie Smith describes, “Akiko's playing is like watching a flower blooming, a bird spreading her wings in the music world. Akiko is here to stay.” Her future is bright and promising.
Copyright Akiko Tsuruga. All rights reserved.