Born and raised in California, Akira Tana earned degrees from Harvard University and the New England Conservatory of Music. Tana has worked with among others, 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 200 recordings.
In the 90’s, 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. A fourth release on VegaMusic-USA is a project entitled “JAZZaNOVA,” that features the vocalists, Claudio Amaral, Claudia Villela, Jackie Ryan, Carla Helmbrecht, and Sandy Cressman. Guest artists include Branford Marsalis and Arturo Sandoval. Also available are three recent releases as a leader,“Otonowa,” “Stars Across the Ocean,” and “Ai San San (Love’s Radiance),” which features jazz interpretations of Japanese folk and pop melodies that date as far back as the1800’s. This group has completed seven goodwill/charity tours 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, San Francisco State University, California Jazz Conservatory and is currently on the faculty at San Francisco Conservatory of Music.