Jazz Pianist from Japan: The phenomenal Akiko Tsuruga

Written By Sonny Akbar Sembada

Hi, my name is Sonny Akbar Sembada and I welcome you to my blog, The Uncle Jazz. The main topic of my blog is everything related to jazz music.. 

Jazz pianist from Japan Akiko Tsuruga – a musical whiz from Osaka, Japan, who kicked off her journey into the world of keys at Yamaha Music School when she was just three years old.

Getting into the jazz groove early on, Akiko jumped into her musical career right after graduating from Osaka College of Music. While she was jamming in Osaka, she had the chance to play alongside some big-shot jazz musicians from the U.S., and meeting Grady Tate was a game-changer.

Jazz Pianist from Japan Akiko Tsuruga: Navigating the Jazz Scene with Style

Akiko then made her way to the jazz mecca, NYC, and wasted no time leaving her mark. During those early years, she had a blast jamming, performing, and laying down tracks with jazz legends like Frank Wess, Jimmy Cobb, and the legendary Grady Tate. Lou Donaldson noticed her talent, and in 2006, she became the organist for his quartet.

Grooving with Dr. Lonnie Smith and Sustaining the Jazz Buzz

However, the real plot twist in Akiko’s musical journey happened when she crossed paths with the organ maestro, Dr. Lonnie Smith. He became her mentor, her musical compass, and she attributes much of her growth to his influence. Akiko continues to evolve, maintaining her position as a constant force in the vibrant NY jazz scene.

Youtube video by Akiko Tsuruga

With ten albums to her name, jazz pianist from Japan Akiko Tsuruga, dropping beats in both the U.S. and Japan, Akiko’s debut in the U.S., “Sweet and Funky,” clinched the “Best Album of 2007” title according to DOWNBEAT Magazine.

Read also: The Mysterious Jazz Legend: Buddy Bolden

Her albums consistently hit the top ten on the National Radio Jazz Chart. Noteworthy accolades include the “Swing Journal Rising Star Award” (Japan) in 2010, the Hot House Magazine (NYC) Best Organist award in 2017, and the Rising Star Organ title in the DOWNBEAT Magazine Critics Poll 2020.

Jamming with the Hamilton-Kovalcheck Trio and Future Moves

Jazz pianist from Japan Akiko’s latest groove? Teaming up with the jazz drumming sensation Jeff Hamilton and the incredibly talented guitarist Steve Kovalcheck. This dynamic trio has been rocking stages across the U.S. and Europe. Akiko remains a go-to figure in the NY Jazz scene, and catch her joining The Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra for their 2023 Euro Tour. It’s bound to be an unforgettable experience!

Did you like the article Jazz Pianist from Japan: The phenomenal Akiko Tsuruga? share it with your friends.

Leave a Comment

The Uncle Jazz is reader-supported. When you buy through links on my site, I may earn an affiliate commission.