August 3, 8 p.m., Telluride’s five-star Wilkinson Public Library screens a rare documentary, “Jazz is my Native Language: A Portrait of Toshiko Akiyoshi,” about be-bop pianist-bandleader-composer who is the 2010 Telluride Jazz Celebration Guest of Honor. (The Telluride Jazz Celebration comes up this weekend, August 5 – August 8.)
“Jazz is my Native Language: A Portrait of Toshiko Akiyoshi” is Renee Cho’s 1983 documentary of this great musician’s life: from growing up in Manchuria during WW II to moving from Los Angeles to New York. The film features some good music, and a very personal look at Akiyoshi’s life. “Jazz is my Native Language…” should be required viewing for those wishing to understand a bit about this artist before hearing her at the Telluride Jazz Celebration.
“Toshiko is unique. She’s one of a kind…it’s a great tribute to the fact that she’s counteracted racial and sexual prejudice to reach those pinnacles of achievement,” Leonard Feather, jazz critic & author.