Born and raised in California, Akira Tana earned degrees from Harvard University and the New England Conservatory of Music. Tana has worked with 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, THE MANHATTAN TRANSFER, RUTH BROWN, CHARLES AZNAVOUR, MAURICE HINES, AND VAN DYKE PARKS. He has appeared on over 150 recordings.
Tana co-led a quintet with the bassist, Rufus Reid called TanaReid, has five releases, Yours and Mine and Passing Thoughts, on Concord Records and Blue Motion and Looking Forward,and “Back to Front,” on Evidence Music. On Sons of Sound, Akira has two releases as a leader, Moon Over the World and Secret Agent Men. The third US releasee on Sons of Sound as a leader is a project by the Secret Agent Men Band playing themes from the movies of James Bond, entitled “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang,” featuring the vocalist, Annie Sellick. Just released in Japan is a project entitled “JAZZaNOVA,” on Vega Records that features the vocalists, Claudio Amaral, Claudia Villela, Jackie Ryan, Carla Helmbrecht, and Sandy Cressman. Guest artists include Branford Marsalis and Arturo Sandoval. This project will be released in the US in 2014. The most recent release as a leader is a recording entitled “Otonowa,” which features jazz interpretations of Japanese folk and pop melodies that date as far back as the1800’s. This group just completed a tour of Tohoku performing and teaching for communites still rebuilding from the Earthquake/Tsunamai of 2011. An active teacher and clinician, Tana has taught at Rutgers University, Queens College, Jersey City State College, New York University, and is currently on the faculty at San Francisco State University and the Jazz Conservatory of California in Berkeley Ca.