A Japanese Pianist, At Home In China : A Blog Supreme The jazz pianist Toshiko Akiyoshi was born to Japanese parents in what is now northeastern China. At a recent concert in Beijing, she embraced that history in her music. "Jazz is a kind of music style that tells about life experiences," she says.
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A Japanese Pianist, At Home In China

Toshiko Akiyoshi and Gerald Wilson at the 2007 NEA Jazz Masters ceremony. Bryan Bedder/Getty Images hide caption

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Bryan Bedder/Getty Images

Toshiko Akiyoshi and Gerald Wilson at the 2007 NEA Jazz Masters ceremony.

Bryan Bedder/Getty Images

The Japanese-American jazz pianist Toshiko Akiyoshi, active in the U.S. for over a half-century now, was born in what is now northeastern China -- where Japanese influence was strong in the years preceding World War II. It's where she learned to play her instrument, and, according to China's state-sponsored Global Times, the city of Dalian is her "true home." So in a recent Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra concert in Beijing, she conducted a piece written for her Chinese piano teacher, and scored features for traditional instruments like guzheng, erhu and Chinese drums. "Jazz is a kind of music style that tells about life experiences," she says. [Global Times: Return to China fulfills 80-year old jazz artist's long-cherished dream]