Lew Tabackin

Lewis Barry Tabackin (born March 26, 1940)[1] is an American jazz tenor saxophonist and flutist. He is married to pianist Toshiko Akiyoshi with whom he has co-led large ensembles since the 1970s.

Lew Tabackin
Lew Tabackin playing tenor saxophone at the Artists' Quarter jazz club on November 16, 2013.jpg
Background information
Birth nameLewis Barry Tabackin
Born (1940-03-26) March 26, 1940 (age 81)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
InstrumentsTenor saxophone, flute
Years active1962–present
LabelsRCA Victor/BMG, Discomate, Inner City
Associated actsToshiko Akiyoshi – Lew Tabackin Big Band, Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra


Lew Tabackin at Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society, Half Moon Bay, California, June 3, 1984

Tabackin started learning flute at age 12, followed by tenor saxophone at age 15.[2] He has cited Al Cohn[2][3] and Coleman Hawkins[2] as influences on saxophone, 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 serving with the U.S. Army worked with Tal Farlow. He also worked with Chuck Israels in New York City[2] and a band that included Elvin Jones, Donald Byrd, and Roland Hanna. Later he was a member of The Dick Cavett Show band and The Tonight Show Band with Doc Severinsen.[4] He moved from New York to California with The Tonight Show in 1972.[3] During this time he played with Shelly Manne and Billy Higgins.[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. Tabackin was principal soloist for the band from 1973 through 2003.

Critic Scott Yanow describes Tabackin as "one of the few jazz musicians who has been able to develop completely different musical personalities on two instruments", with his forceful hard bop style on sax contrasting with his delicate flute playing.[6]

Jazz Foundation of AmericaEdit

Tabackin supports the Jazz Foundation of America in its mission to help elderly jazz and blues musicians, including those affected by Hurricane Katrina. He has sat on the Advisory Committee of the Foundation since 2002.[7]


Awards and honorsEdit

DownBeat magazine Critic's Poll winner:[11]

  • Jazz Album of the Year: 1978 (Insights)
  • Big Band: 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983
  • Flute: 1980, 1981, 2010

DownBeat magazine Readers' Poll winner:

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

Grammy Award nominations:

Swing Journal awards:


  1. ^ Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Who's Who of Jazz (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 384/5. ISBN 0-85112-580-8.
  2. ^ a b c d e Joffe, Edward (November 2006). "An Interview with Lew Tabackin". Joffe Woodwinds.
  3. ^ a b c d e Jazz, All About (4 April 2003). "A Fireside Chat With Lew Tabackin". All About Jazz. Retrieved 20 November 2018.
  4. ^ Feather, Leonard; Gitler, Ira (1976). The Encyclopedia of Jazz in the Seventies. New York: Horizon.
  5. ^ Freedman, Samuel G. (15 June 2012). "Studying and Living Jewish-Asian Intermarriage". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 November 2018.
  6. ^ Yanow, Scott. "Lew Tabackin". AllMusic. Retrieved 20 November 2018.
  7. ^ "Jazz Angels pt. 2 - JFA's Wendy Oxenhorn on HammondCast KYOURADIO". Archive.org. Retrieved August 2, 2021.
  8. ^ Dryden, Ken, "Lew Tabackin: Jazz na Hradě (2010)," allaboutjazz.com. Accessed 2011 September 26.
  9. ^ Mosaic Records, Mosaic Select Vol. 33 Archived 2008-10-06 at the Wayback Machine. Accessed 2008 September 19.
  10. ^ [1][dead link]
  11. ^ "Down Beat Magazine". 27 September 2007. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 20 November 2018.

External linksEdit