Master reedman Lew Tabackin interest in music began in his birthplace, Philadelphia, where he majored in flute at the Philadelphia Conservatory of Music and studied privately with Vincent Persichetti. After a stint in the army in the '60s, he moved to New York, where he spent seven musically active years. He held a regular gig with his own trio at a club called LaBoheme, as well as playing in the big bands of dark Terry, Duke Pearson, Chuck Israels, and Thad Jones and Mel Lewis. In those early years he also spent some time in Europe, where he was a soloist with various orchestras, including the Danish Radio Orchestra, and the Hamburg Jazz Workshop.
Lew met Toshiko Akiyoshi in 1968, when the two played together in a quartet. Eventually they married and moved to Los Angeles, where they formed the award-winning big band now known as the Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra. In L.A. Lew gigged with Shelley Mamie, and with various trios of his own with Billy Higgins, John Heard, and Charlie Haden. He also toured Japan frequently with Toshiko and the big band, and with his own trio featuring drummer Joey Baron and bassist Michael Moore. In the '80s Lew began to get some long overdue recognition as a flutist, winning many critics' and reader's polls in Down Beat magazine.
In 1982 Lew and Toshiko moved back to New York, which put Lew back into the all-important Manhattan jazz scene. Since that move, he has developed more and more as a major force on tenor saxophone and flute, and as a recording artist.
Tabackin has also been associated with several all-star bands, including George Wein's Newport All-Star Band, the New York Jazz Giants, and the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band. Additionally, he has continued to tour around the world as a soloist, playing clubs and jazz festivals with his own groups, and as featured soloist with the Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra.
These days, as Lew explains it, "I'm trying to personalize my music more, make my stuff stronger. He adds, "I'm trying very hard to be able to function as a leader, and have my own group, instead of always the 'rhythm section du jour' thing, or the all-star thing. I want to concentrate on the group personality-the group as an entity. If you don't have that, then you're just in a survival mode."
Group Format: Trio – Quartet