Akira Tana was born in San Jose, California and has degrees in East Asian Studies from Harvard University and percussion from the New England Conservatory. In New York, he established himself as one of the most sought-after drummers on the international jazz scene.
Recognized for his ability to ignite the spark of many top rhythm sections and create pure musical dialogue with mainstay soloists, his colorful interactive style has led to concert, club and recording work with jazz greats such as Sonny Rollins, Sonny Stitt, Zoot Sims, Hubert Laws, Milt Jackson, Jim Hall, Art Farmer, The Paul Winter Consort, Paquito D’Rivera, James Moody, J.J. Johnson, Lena Horne, and The Manhattan Transfer, just to name a few. His work has not solely been in the jazz field; he has performed at the Tanglewood Festival under the direction of Leonard Bernstein, Seiji Ozawa and Gunther Schuller and has accompanied diverse artists such as Charles Aznavour, Maurice Hines and Van Dyke Parks with performances on over 100 recordings.Tana has played at many international jazz festivals, and has toured throughout the world. He has given workshops and clinics at a number of U. S. colleges including University of Pittsburgh, University of Georgia, University of Miami, and Berklee College of Music. Of particular interest was a concert-clinic tour of South America with the Heath Brothers sponsored and presented through the U.S. State Department.
Tana co-led a quintet called TanaReid for 10 years with the bassist Rufus Reid. They released six CD’s, five of them produced by Tana. He has also produced a number of critically acclaimed recordings of note including A Tribute to Wes Montgomery (Vols. I & II). Tana currently has a CD entitled Secret Agent Men on the Sons of Sound Record Label that features organist Dr. Lonnie Smith and guitarist Rodney Jones. He will have two subsequent releases on Sons of Sound in 2003 and 2004.
Now in the San Francisco Bay Area, Tana remains active on the international jazz scene touring extensively as well as performing locally. He continues to teach privately and at San Francisco State University and conducts clinics and master classes sponsored in part by Yamaha Drums and Vic Firth Sticks.
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