Born and raised in California, Akira Tana has earned degrees from Harvard University and the New England Conservatory of Music. Since arriving in New York in 1979, Tana has worked with such jazz greats 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, The Manhattan Transfer, Junior Mance, and Ruth Brown. His work has not solely been limited to the jazz field, as he has also accompanied diverse artists such as Charles Aznavour, Maurice Hines, and Van Dyke Parks. He has appeared on over 100 recordings.
In his five recordings as leader for Sons of Sound, Mr. Tana has led a creative effort to expand the catalog of jazz standards beyond the American Songbooks. His first, Secret Agent Men, explored film and television themes for new jazz arrangements. Inspired by James Bond's 50th Anniversary, he and Larry Dunlap arranged the 007 canon for Kiss Kiss Bang Bang featuring the Secret Agent Men and vocalist Annie Sellick. Between these releases, Mr. Tana convened a trio and recorded Moon Over The World featuring jazz interpretations of Asian popular and folk melodies. His most recent quartet releases, Otonowa and Stars Across The Ocean, were inspired by relief efforts for the great tsunami and earthquake of 2011 and focus exclusively on Japanese melodies as source material.
Tana also co-leads a quintet with the bassist Rufus Reid known as TanaReid. 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.
Akira Tana is a product endorser of Yamaha Drums, Crescent Cymbals, and Vic Firth Sticks.