|Liner Note to Toshiko Akiyoshi Compilation, "Shibuya Jazz Classics" series|
|3/29/2017 11:11:45 AM - This is really such a great honor for me to put together a compilation of my mother's recorded works. When I was first approached about this project, certain tunes came to mind immediately: "Long Yellow Road" considered to be my mother's theme song, "Warning: Success May Be Hazardous to Your Health" (don't you just love the title?), "Kogun" considered by many to be one of her most defining works hitting upon a cultural subject while combining Japanese traditional music in a big band jazz setting. Then the CDs came.|
Wakasugi Minoru-san, one of the people working on the project, provided me with several mixed compilations of suggested works, 4 CDs in all, and while many of the big band recordings I already knew, I was treated to tracks I had never heard before. While growing up, I heard in real time my mother's wonderful quartet and trio recordings, saw the big band come together from the demo stages to its countless Grammy nominated recordings, sat through many a concert, from the Playboy Festival in L.A.'s Hollywood Bowl to Disneyland to the Ford Amphitheatre and others, saw the L.A. big band disband and a new one born in New York after they moved in 1982. During my days hunting in dusty record shops, I would come across a recording or two that I didn't know. But some of the older ones were completely new to me. And of course there is my own personal collection of her works.
The compilation was harder than I thought to put together. Frankly, there are too many treasures in her recorded repertoire! The compilation went through many lists and drafts and, even when I thought I had it pegged, changed at the last minute as I began the task of deciding the order of the tunes. But I have tried to pick what I believe to be a balanced representation of my mother as a composer, an arranger, a big band leader, a soloist, a jazz pianist, and most importantly as a singular artist with a "voice" that will transcend time and remain long after we are all gone.
I have incorporated recordings from the past and present and took into account my personal favorites, critically acclaimed works, as well as some tracks I knew my mother favored. For example, for "Long Yellow Road," there are many reincarnations of the tune in various forms, and while the tune is spectacular in both big band and quartet or other ensembled versions, I purposely chose the trio version as this is a very personal tune that outlines her musical and life's journey.
While seeing my mother perform many solo concerts, including the one at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., "The Village" has always stood out to me and is truly one of my favorite tunes of hers. In Wakasugi-san's CDs which he prepared for me to check out, I was surprised at hearing what appeared to be the roots and the original form of "The Village" entitled "Kasarazu Jinku." There were a few versions of this in the provided CDs, and I decided on this trio version.
Many of you might chuckle to hear the flute quartet version of "Manho de Carnival" which my mother put together for a special project and included me on. I was 16 years old at the time and was honored to play 3rd chair amongst these professional flautists, and felt I did a pretty good job holding my own. I could be wrong, but I still think my mother put together the project just to do something with me, her own way of showing maternal pride towards her daughter following in the family footsteps.
"I Ain't Gonna Ask No More" was a last minute throw in, although I had it listed as a potential from the very beginning. I still remember Phil Teele, the bass trombonist, and his sweet and lazy demeanor, who my mother also loved, and this tune was written especially to showcase his playing. I think this is a rare view into just how funky and full of humor my mother can be, and stands out amongst her usually more serious works.
The last two tracks I feel draw this compilation to a subdu
| Shibuya Jazz Classics, Toshiko Akiyoshi Compilation liner note, by Monday Michiru|