Sumi Tonooka

Born: 1956    Primary Instrument: Piano

Sumi Tonooka

Sumi Tonooka (pronounced To-NO-ka) has been called a “fierce and fascinating composer and pianist” (Jazz Times), “provocative and compelling” (New York Times), and “continually inventive, original, surprising, and a total delight,” (Cuadranos de Jazz, Madrid).

During a career spanning more than 30 years that has taken her from bases in Philadelphia & Boston, to New York & Seattle, Tonooka has been developing a body of work that surprises and delights audiences - quietly piling up accolades from jazz writers and fellow musicians.

In 2013, the American Composers Orchestra and The Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia University, in cooperation with EarShot, the National Orchestra Composition Discover Network, presented Tonooka's first work for symphony ochestra as part of the second Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute (JCOI) Readings. ...
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”Congratulations! Your CD - Long Ago Today - has been voted as one of Jazz Improv NY Magazine’s Top Jazz CDs of 2008. “ - Eric Nemeyer (Publisher), Jazz Improv Magazine

”Her best to date, and a highly recommended recording, it seems Tonooka is still tapping potential while refining her search techniques on this very satisfying and enjoyable effort. “ - Michael G. Nastos, **** 4 STARS - All Music Guide

”Tonooka's music is beautifully conceived and enthralling; a constant joy that will hopefully be followed up more often. ” - Jerry D'Souza, All About Jazz

”... she plays with a mature and entirely personal style that makes her a contender for the ranks of today's jazz piano elite.” - Jeff Dayton-Johnson, ALL ABOUT JAZZ

”Her compositions are like the fourth player in the room; they veer into unusual patterns and give everyone something challenging. Tonooka tames them, though, making them sound flowing and of one piece.” - Karl Stark, PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER

”****”....every single track on the date has something special about it and its really worth trying to get a copy on the internet. UNRESERVEDLY RECOMMENDED”” - Tony Hall****4 STARS, jazzwise magazine

”...her assets are speed, power, and harmonic and rhythmic ingenuity, the track “Quantum Question” proves that at her best she can knock you down and run you over.” - Thomas Conrad, Jazz TImes

”Sumi creates a kaleidoscope of timbres & textures in her delivery, as well as a true jazz idiom sensibility with her impressionistic style. She also brings an 'original' voice to piano jazz with her obvious paranormal pianistic skills, thus complementing the art of jazz piano in general. Bravo Sumi!” - George W Carroll, The Musicians' Ombudsman (eJazzNews)

”Tonooka has been applauded for being a force of nature on the piano by aficionados of her work, and she still is with the compositions on Long Ago Today. The way her piano rings communicate with the bass pulls and delicate drum shuffles is inviting. “ - Susan Frances , JAZZ REVIEW

”All originals, except for one Cole Porter tune. State of the art postbop, hard for me to nail down, but I'm impressed with how the pieces build and move. B+(***) “ - Tom Hull, Jazz Consumer Guide

”She teams with Rufus Reid on bass, who she has played with since her debut in 1986, and Bob Braye, who passed away shortly after this recording, but it’s Tonooka’s command of the keyboard that keeps this interesting throughout. The same can be said of her compositions. “ - Kyle O'Brien, Jazz Society of Oregon

”Tonooka is also flexible enough to engage in three-way dialogue if that's the way a performance unfolds. Nothing outre - just an exceptional player doing her thing well. (****)” - RAY COMISKEY, THE IRISH TIMES

SELECT DISCOGRAPHY o Long Ago Today With Rufus Reid (bass) and Bob Braye(drums). Artists Recording Collective, 2008. o Secret Places With Rufus Reid (bass) and Lewis Nash (drums). Joken Records, 1998. o Here Comes Kai With Rufus Reid (bass) and Lewis Nash (drums). Candid Productions Ltd., 1992. o Taking Time With Craig Handy (saxophones), Rufus Reid (bass), and Akira Tana (drums). Candid Productions Ltd., 1991. o With an Open Heart With Rufus Reid (bass) and Akira Tana (drums). Radiant Records, 1990 As a Collaborator o Kindred Spirits With John Blake, Jr. (violin). Spirit Records, 2000 As an Ensemble Pianist o Bobby Zankel — Seeking Spirit Bobby Zankel, saxophones. Cadence Jazz, 1991. o John Blake — A New Beginning John Blake Jr., Violin. Radiant Records, 1988.

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