Akiko Tsuruga Organ Group

She’s “Sweet and Funky,” she’s “Cute and Bad”.

A Composer. A Performer extraordinaire.
The legendary Dr. Lonnie Smith describes her this way: “Akiko's playing is like watching a flower blooming, a bird spreading her wings in the music world. Akiko is here to stay.”

Raised in Osaka, Japan, this talented musician began studying the organ at the age of three, at the famed Yamaha Music School. After discovering her passion for jazz very early on in her musical journey, Akiko launched her career immediately after graduating from the Osaka College of Music. While living and playing in Osaka, she had many opportunities to perform with world-renowned jazz musicians from the United States. Meeting Grady Tate, in particular, was a life-changing event for Akiko. ‘

After landing in the mecca for jazz, New York City, it didn’t take long for Akiko to make her mark - It was during these early years that she had the great pleasure of sitting in, playing gigs, and eventually recording with jazz greats such as Frank Wess, Jimmy Cobb, Grady Tate, and other top NY musicians. Her reputation ultimately drew the attention of Lou Donaldson as he chose her in 2006 as his quartet’s organist.

But it was the meeting of organ legend Dr. Lonnie Smith that proved to have the greatest impact on Akiko’s musical development and career. He became an important mentor to Akiko, and she considers him her greatest influence. She flourished and continued to be a constant draw on the NY jazz scene.

Akiko has ten albums as a leader to her credit in both the U.S. and Japan. Her debut album in the U.S., “Sweet and Funky”, was selected as a “Best Album of 2007” in DOWNBEAT Magazine. Her albums have constantly placed in the top ten on the National Radio Jazz Chart. Akiko also received “Swing Journal Rising Star Award” (Japan) in 2010, Hot House Magazine (NYC) Best Organist’ in 2017 and the DOWNBEAT Magazine Critics Poll 2020 Rising Star Organ.

Akiko’s latest excitement is a trio project featuring Jeff Hamilton on the drums and Steve Kovalcheck on the guitar. This thrilling trio has been touring around the US and Europe. Akiko continues to be a constant draw on the NY Jazz scene. 2023 will be a big year for Akiko. She finished performing with her NY Quartet at Marian’s Jazz Room in Switzerland and will perform at Rochester, Vail Jazz Festival, and The Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra for their 2023 European Tour. Also, her new album will be released in 2023.

Just take a listen to this dynamic performer, and I’m sure you will agree with the legendary Dr. Lonnie Smith - “Akiko is here to stay!”


Wed, Jun 28 - 7:45 PM
Hyatt Regency Rochester Grand Ballroom
Club Pass or $30/door

Wed, Jun 28 - 9:45 PM
Hyatt Regency Rochester Grand Ballroom
Club Pass or $30/door

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