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Sumi Tonooka is a “fierce and fascinating composer and pianist” (Jazz Times), “provocative and compelling” (NY Times), and “continually inventive, original, surprising, and a total delight,” (Cuadranos de Jazz, Madrid). Critic Francis Davis placed Sumi “among the best of today’s young pianists.” In 20 years , from Philadelphia to Boston to New York City, Tonooka has delighted audiences and piled up accolades from jazz writers and fellow musicians. In trio or quartet with jazz stalwarts like bassist Rufus Reid and drummers Akira Tana and Lewis Nash, her recordings blend her compositions with personal readings of jazz standards. Her recording, Initiation (2009 ARC Records, with tenor sax Erica Lindsay), garnered an “Honorable Mention” in the 2010 Village Voice Jazz Critic’s Poll. In addition to her jazz recording and performing, she has composed for award-winning films. She is also featured in an upcoming full-length documentary from Citygate Films on the youngest victims of HIV/AIDS in Africa. She tours West Africa as part of a sextet featuring jazz violinist John Blake, Jr.
A Note of Hope released in 2011. Tonooka’s career is chronicled in jazz books like Living the Jazz Life by Royal Stokes, The Moment by Francis Davis, and Madame Jazz by Leslie Gourse. With alto saxophonist Chris Burnett and tenor saxophonist Erica Lindsay, she co-founded the Artists Recording Collective (ARC). She is the Chief, Public Relations Officer for the record label and she composes, teaches, and performs for a widespread audience of jazz aficionados who have discovered her talents. www.sumitonooka.com
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