Akiko Tsuruga Trio
Akiko Tsuruga on Hammond B3 Organ
(Akiko Tsuruga Website)
Eric Johnson on Guitar
Fukushi Tainaka on Drums
Guest: Floyd King on Saxophone
Frederick P. Rose Hall
Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola
After Hours Set
Broadway at 60th Street
(Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola Website)
Todd Barkan, Host
Scott Thompson, Press
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
March 16, 2005
Dizzy’s Coca-Cola is the new home for Jazz at Lincoln Center, Frederick P. Rose Hall, overlooking Central Park and Columbus Circle, very high and very glowing, as candlelight and New York black are the décor of their intimate events. I had been promising Akiko Tsuruga for a year that I would visit her trio, and, finally, tonight was my delightful meeting with this talented and unique jazz ensemble.
With Akiko on Hammond B3 organ, Eric Johnson on guitar, Fukushi Tainaka on drums, and guest, Floyd King, who later sat in with the band on sax, Dizzy’s Coca-Cola bounced with an introduction of fused swing and blues, abstract jazz, and ethnic embellishments. Akiko creates a fresh orchestral sound with strong lead on the organ, which she generously passes to drums or guitar. At times the music was so intense that Fukushi stood to handle cymbals and four drums, all at once. And, to add to the interaction of band and audience, Eric walked through the club on guitar, while the sound emanated from the onstage speakers.
Early on, both guitar and organ played contrasting and complimentary themes, while Fukushi kept the percussive, hot swing rhythm resonating. Soon this cacophony slowed down to undulating and sultry sound with a touch of clavé Latin beat on drums. In the third piece, with the threads of When I Fall In Love, the guitar took this ballad to hot, contemporary style, before the band fell into a foxtrot beat. Suddenly, Akiko switched electrically to “prepared piano” effects, for a surreal riff, before returning to the straight romantic ballad. A hint of the original tune re-emerged, but in electrified dissonance.
Without barely a pause, As Time Goes By appeared, in a guitar lead, passed to the organ for a repeat theme, and then returned to Eric for twists and turns. When Johnny Comes Marching Home, a military tune, followed by surprise, with a pounding and moody organ lead passed to a wild, unruly guitar. The band repeated the introductory bars to eternity with exciting results, before returning to the early march and traditional rhythmic motif.
Floyd King, a guest on saxophone, played straight jazz lead with off-scale screeches, quite a different turn. Floyd and Eric switched leads, before Fukushi took a long, ecstatic solo on powerful percussion. Long solos were the signature style of Akiko Tsuruga’s generous leads. Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola is a great new jazz space in the midtown area.
Akiko Tsuruga and Her Band
Eric Johnson and Floyd King
Todd Barkan, Host, and Akiko Tsuruga