AKIKO TSURUGA | website
From Osaka, Japan, Akiko has been a mainstay in the New York jazz scene for over a decade. She began playing the organ at 3, and launched her career in jazz immediately after graduating from the Osaka College of Music. While living in Osaka, she had the opportunity to play with numerous world-renowned jazz musicians from the United States, such as Roy Hargrove, Jeff “Tain” Watts, and Grady Tate. Tate, in particular, had the strongest influence on her decision to become a professional musician and she considers Tate and her teacher, Dr. Lonnie Smith, among her most important mentors. Tate performed on her Japanese debut album and also convinced her to move to the United States. After landing in NYC, Akiko was embraced by her fellow musicians and soon became recognized as one of the top organ players in the city. A regular and crowd favorite at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola in Jazz at Lincoln Center, Akiko has headlined many well-known jazz venues, such as Blue Note, Birdland, Smoke, Green Mill in Chicago, and Yoshi’s in Oakland, CA. Several years ago, the DownBeat critics’ poll placed Akiko in the Rising Star category, and she has been a regular on DownBeat polls since then. She recently toured Japan and Europe with Lou Donaldson and is on the road this summer touring the US with both the Lou Donaldson Quartet and her own group. Her latest CD is Sakura.