Lew Tabackin

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Lew Tabackin
Lew Tabackin playing tenor saxophone at the Artists' Quarter jazz club on November 16, 2013.jpg
Background information
Birth name Lewis Barry Tabackin
Born (1940-03-26) March 26, 1940 (age 76)
Philadelphia, PA, USA
Origin Philadelphia and New York City
Genres Jazz
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Tenor saxophone, flute
Years active 1962 –
Labels RCA Victor/BMG, Discomate, Inner City, ...
Associated acts Toshiko Akiyoshi – Lew Tabackin Big Band, Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra, Lew Tabackin Trio
Website http://lewtabackin.com/

Lew Tabackin (born March 26, 1940 in Philadelphia) is a jazz flutist and a tenor saxophonist. He is married to Toshiko Akiyoshi, who is a jazz pianist and a composer/arranger.[1]


Tabackin first took up the flute at the age of 12, followed by the tenor saxophone at age 15.[2] He has citied Al Cohn[2][3] and Coleman Hawkins[2] as influences on his sax playing, while his flute role models include classical players such as William Kincaid, Julius Baker, and Jean-Pierre Rampal.[2] Tabackin studied flute at the Philadelphia Conservatory of Music and also studied music with composer Vincent Persichetti. In 1962 he graduated from the Conservatory and, after a stint with the U.S. Army, worked with Tal Farlow. He also worked with Chuck Israels in New York City,[2] and a combo that included Elvin Jones, Donald Byrd, and Roland Hanna. Later he would have a chair in The Dick Cavett Show's band and The Tonight Show Band with Doc Severinsen.[4] Tabackin moved from New York to California when The Tonight Show relocated in 1972.[3] During this time he played with Shelly Manne and Billy Higgins, among others.[3]

Tabackin met Toshiko Akiyoshi in 1967 while he was playing in Clark Terry's band and she was invited to sit in for Don Friedman.[3] They formed a quartet in the late 1960s, married in 1969,[5] and in 1973 co-founded the Toshiko Akiyoshi – Lew Tabackin Big Band in Los Angeles,[3] which later became the Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra featuring Lew Tabackin, playing bebop in Duke Ellington-influenced arrangements and compositions by Akiyoshi.[6] Tabackin was principal soloist for the big band/orchestra from 1973 through 2003.

Lew Tabackin was interviewed by Linus Wyrsch on "The Jazz Hole" for breakthruradio.com in July 2011 - Lew Tabackin Interview by breakthruradio.com

Jazz Foundation of America[edit]

Tabackin has become a great supporter of the Jazz Foundation of America in their mission to save the homes and the lives of America's elderly jazz and blues musicians including musicians that survived Hurricane Katrina. He sits on the Advisory Committee of the Foundation since 2002.[7]


As leader or co-leader[edit]

  • Tabackin (1974) also released as Let the Tape Roll
  • Daydream (1976)
  • Dual Nature (1976)
  • Trackin' (1976)
  • Tenor Gladness, with Warne Marsh (1976)
  • Rites of Pan (1977)
  • Vintage Tenor (1978)
  • Lew Tabackin Meets the Tadpoles (1979)
  • Black and Tan Fantasy (1979)
  • Phil Woods/Lew Tabackin (Omnisound, 1980)
  • Threedom (1980)
  • Duo: John Lewis & Lew Tabackin (1981)
  • My Old Flame (1982)
  • Lew Tabackin Quartet with Randy Brecker,... (1983)
  • Angelica (1985)
  • Desert Lady (1989)
  • I'll Be Seeing You (1992)
  • What a Little Moonlight Can Do (1994)
  • Live at Vartan's (1994)
  • L' Archiduc - Round About Five (1996)
  • Tenority (1996)
  • In a Sentimental Mood (1998)
  • Pyramid (1999)
  • Tanuki's Night Out - Lew Tabackin Trio (2002)
  • Vintage: Duke Ellington Songbook (2008)
  • Live in Paris - Lew Tabackin Trio (2008)
  • Jazz na Hradě, Lew Tabackin Quartet (2010)[8]

Toshiko Akiyoshi – Lew Tabackin Big Band[edit]

Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra featuring Lew Tabackin[edit]

Akiyoshi - Tabackin Big Band compilations[edit]

As sideman[edit]

With Maynard Ferguson

With Jazz Composer's Orchestra

With Duke Pearson

With Donald Byrd

With Toshiko Akiyoshi

With The Manhattan Transfer

With Barry Miles

With Leonard Feather

  • Night Blooming (Mainstream, 1972)

With Tom Waits

With Shelly Manne

  • Plays Richard Rodgers' Musical "Rex" (Discovery, 1976)
  • Essence (Galaxy, 1977)

With Jimmy Knepper

With Louie Bellson

  • Ecue Ritmos Cubanos (Pablo, 1977)

With Bill Berry

With Freddie Hubbard

With Benny Carter

With John Colianni

  • Blues-O-Matic (Concord, 1988)

With Carla White

With Howard Alden

  • Take Your Pick (Concord, 1996)

With David Lahm

With Jimmy Amadie

  • The Philadelphia Story (TPR, 2007)

With Harmonie Ensemble New York

  • Tchaikovsky, Ellington, Strayhorn: Nutcracker Suites (Harmonia Mundi, 2013)
  • Henry Mancini: Music for Peter Gunn (Harmonia Mundi, 2014)


Awards and honors[edit]

Down Beat magazine Critic's Poll winner:[11]

Down Beat Magazine Reader's Poll winner:[12]

  • Big Band: 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982
  • Flute: 1981, 1982

Grammy award nominations:[13]

Stereo Review magazine (US):[citation needed]

Swing Journal (Japanese jazz magazine) awards:[14]


  1. ^ Lew Tabackin 70th Birthday Celebration announcement (Ref for correct birth month - vs. birth month error in (Feather/Gitler's) Encyclopedia of Jazz in the Seventies)
  2. ^ a b c d e Joffe, Edward. "An Interview with Lew Tabackin." Joffe Woodwinds, Nov. 2006. Web. 11 Aug. 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d e Jung, Fred. "A Fireside Chat With Lew Tabackin." All About Jazz, 4 Apr. 2003. Web. 11 Aug. 2014.
  4. ^ Feather, Leonard, and Ira Gitler. The Encyclopedia of Jazz in the Seventies. New York: Horizon, 1976. Print.
  5. ^ Freedman, Samuel G. "A Jewish-Asian Couple's Union Leads to a Scholarly Interest in Intermarriage." New York Times, Late Edition (East Coast). Jun 16 2012. ProQuest. Web. 13 Aug. 2014.
  6. ^ Down Beat Artist Profile
  7. ^ archive.org. 2009-02-11. URL: https://archive.org/details/JonHammondJazzAngelspt.2-JFA_sWendyOxenhornonHammondCastKYOURADIO. (Archived by blogspot.com at https://archive.org/details/JonHammondJazzAngelspt.2-JFA_sWendyOxenhornonHammondCastKYOURADIO)
  8. ^ Dryden, Ken, "Lew Tabackin: Jazz na Hradě (2010)," allaboutjazz.com. Accessed 2011 September 26.
  9. ^ Mosaic Records, Mosaic Select Vol. 33. Accessed 2008 September 19.
  10. ^ VIEW DVD Listing
  11. ^ Down Beat magazine critic's poll winners database. Accessed 2007 October 4
  12. ^ Down Beat magazine Readers Poll winners database "archives" Accessed 2010 March.
  13. ^ LA Times (Grammy) Awards database. Accessed 2007 October 4
  14. ^ Swing Journal (Japanese Jazz magazine) Gold / Silver Disk Award winners (Japanese link). Accessed 2007 October 4

External links[edit]