A strong yet underrated pianist in the Bud Powell tradition.
Akiyoshi was born in China but moved to Japan in 1946. She played locally (Sadao Watanabe was among her sidemen) and, after being noticed and encouraged by Oscar Peterson, studied at Berklee during 1956-1959.
In 1965, while in New York, she did a radio series and formed a quartet with her second husband, Lew Tabackin.
She moved to Los Angeles in 1970 and put together a very impressive big band which featured such fine soloists as Bobby Shew, Gary Foster, and Tabackin. They recorded several notable albums before Akiyoshi decided, in 1981, to move to New York.
Since their relocation, Akiyoshi and Tabackin have both been quite active although her re-formed big band has actually received less publicity than it did in L.A.
She is also known as an accomplished arranger who is influenced originally by Gil Evans and Thad Jones. She has been particularly notable for incorporating elements of traditional Japanese music into her otherwise bop-ish charts.