1. Toshiko Akiyoshi
  2. Geri Allen
  3. Andrews Sisters
  4. Angela Andrews
  5. Lil Harden Armstrong
  6. Dorothy Ashby
  7. Pearl Bailey
  8. Beverly Barkley
  9. Karen Briggs
  10. Ruth Brown
  11. Diane Cameron
  12. Betty Carter
  13. Joan Cartwright
  14. Kim Clarke
  15. Gloria Coleman
  16. Alice Coltrane
  17. Sasha Daltonn
  18. Dorothy Donegan
  19. Ella Fitzgerald
  20. Gloria Galante
  21. Rita Graham
  22. Jace Harnage
  23. Billie Holiday
  24. Bertha Hope
  25. Shirley Horn
  26. Lena Horne
  27. Alberta Hunter
  28. Jus' Cynthia
  29. Sandra Kaye
  30. Emme Kemp
  31. Vinnie Knight
  32. Lavelle
  33. Peggy Lee
  34. Abbey Lincoln
  35. Melba Liston
  36. Gloria Lynne
  37. Tania Maria
  38. Marian McPartland
  39. Carmen McRae
  40. Mabel Mercer
  41. M'zuri
  42. Sandy Patton
  43. Trudy Pitts
  44. Cheryl Porter
  45. Shirley Scott
  46. Nina Simone
  47. Bessie Smith
  48. Dakota Staton
  49. Carol Sudhalter
  50. Monnette Sudler
  51. Sarah Vaughn
  52. Dinah Washington
  53. Ethel Waters
  54. Mary Lou Williams


Born on December 12, 1929, and raised in Manchuria, Toshiko Akiyoshi started piano lessons at age six. Ten years later her family moved to Japan, where she first heard and began playing jazz. Soon she opted not to attend medical school as her parents wished. Instead she moved to Tokyo, where her mastery of Bud Powell's bebop style earned her steady work with the city's best bands.

In 1952, Toshiko formed her own group. A year later during a tour of Japan, pianist Oscar Peterson heard her play and recommended her to Norman Granz, who gave her the chance to make her first recordings with such jazz greats as Herb Ellis and Ray Brown. Not long after, Toshiko accepted a full scholarship to the Berklee College of Music in Boston. Soon she was playing regularly at George Wein's Storyville Club and recording for his label with Roy Haynes, Ed Thigpen, Paul Chambers and Oscar Pettiford. In 1956 Wein presented her at his Newport Jazz Festival. She had, as they say, arrived.

In the years since, Toshiko's big band featuring husband/soloist Lew Tabackin has been a driving force in the jazz world, touring and recording to great critical acclaim. Fueled by her inspired writing, playing and conducting, the band is as vital and exciting today as ever. At the 1999 Monterey Jazz Festival, for example, they stole the show by playing a three-movement suite written by Toshiko to celebrate Duke Ellington's 100th birthday.

In July 1986, Toshiko was the first Japanese New Yorker ever to receive the Mayor's Liberty Award in recognition of her contributions to the quality of life in NYC. Other recipients that year included scientist Isaac Asimov, dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov, actress Liv Ullmann, and film director Franco Zeffirelli.