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Meg Okura

Jazz World Music

Meg Okura

MEG OKURA

&

THE PAN ASIAN CHAMBER JAZZ ENSEMBLE

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“…mixes a classically trained mastery of strings, piano and drums with quick-witted compositional twist performed with high energy” 

{Down Beat Magazine}

 

 

Queen of chamber-jazz Meg Okura will present the music of composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, re-imagining his classics from Yellow Magic Orchestra to the Academy award winning soundtrack, The Last Emperor. Described as “vibrant and sophisticated” by the New York Times, the Pan Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble will surely mesmerize the audience.  Composer, erhu player and premiere jazz violinist Meg Okura leads a group of virtuosi, Pan Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble, inventing and defining “world chamber jazz” today.
Hailed by The New York Times as “vibrant” and “sophisticated,” the ensemble is not just pretty faces, but rather “…mixes a classically trained mastery of strings, piano and drums with quick-witted compositional twist performed with high energy” (Down Beat Magazine). Their self-titled debut album was one of the finalists of the 2006 “Best Album” in the Independent Musicians Awards. Today, the album is still the No. 1 Top-Seller in the “Chamber Jazz” category on CDBaby, and received the Editor’s Choice in “Jazz-World Fusion” category.

 

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meg_okuraJuilliard trained Meg Okura takes advantage of compositional techniques of classical music such as melodic counterpoint, as well as her knowledge in sophisticated jazz harmony and vocabularies, while incorporating traditional music from Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Middle-East. The compositions also feature the erhu, a two-stringed Chinese violin, as well as the shinobue, a bamboo flute from Japan. As an arranger, she also puts her unique spins on masterpieces ranging from Paganini to Coltrane, making them completely new and radical. As Elliot Simon from All About Jazz puts it “…the best jazz New York has to offer,” this New York-based ensemble features some of the most talented musicians from all ethnic, cultural, and musical backgrounds. They all went to world’s top conservatories, then went onto performing with some of the biggest names in jazz, gospel, rock, pop and world music as well as major symphonies. The ensemble has just returned from their first tour of Japan (of all sold-out concerts) celebrating the Japanese release of their CD.

Native of Japan, Meg Okura toured throughout Asia as the concertmaster and the soloist with the Asian Youth Orchestra while attending the Toho School in Tokyo. As a teenager, she made her Kennedy Centre debut with the late Alexander Schneider’s New York String Orchestra. She then settled in New York City to pursue her classical study at The Juilliard School. While in school, she realized that studying jazz was the only way to become the most complete musician anyone could be, and made the difficult shift from classical to jazz upon graduation. Today, her credit includes over fifty appearances on albums, movie soundtracks, and television and music videos, performing with musical icons such as David Bowie, Mary J. Blige, Michael Brecker, Philip Glass, Ziggy Marley, Lee Konitz, Lenny Kravitz, Steve Swallow, Kanye West and others. Since the ensemble’s debut at New York’s Stone in February of 2006, Meg Okura’s Pan Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble has performed at Makor, the Next Door Jazz Festival, Saint Peters Church, Asian Leadership Conference at the MoMA, Kumble Theater, Saint Paul’s Chapel. The ensemble was invited to perform at the 2008 Winter Jazz Festival held at the Knitting Factory. The ensemble is currently working on their second album, featuring the current members of the ensemble, including pianist Mamiko Kitaura of the Monica Mancini Orchestra and Jun Kubo, winner of the Haifa International Flute Competition.

VIDEOS

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LINKS

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Meg Okura // website

Pan Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble // website