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Guitarist Miles Okazaki at the 55 Bar and the Jazz Gallery

SOURCE: Published: 2007-02-07
GUITARIST/COMPOSER MILES OKAZAKI
At The 55 Bar-Monday, Feb 12, sets at 9:30, 11:00, $10
Greenwich village, 55 Christopher St.

At The Jazz Gallery-Thurs, April 12, sets at 9:00, 10:30, $12 290 Hudson Street

SHOWS ARE PART OF A SERIES OF APPEARANCES TO CELEBRATE THE RELEASE OF HIS DEBUT CD:

Mirror (OFFICIAL RELEASE DATE IS APRIL 3)
Available at www.milesokazaki.com, or
http://cdbaby.com/cd/milesokazaki

“...Okazaki composed all of the music on “Mirror," his ambitious and involving debut. He also produced the album, created its striking cover illustrations and released the thing himself." “...a work of sustained collectivity as well as deep intricacy." - Nate Chinen, The New York Times

In celebration and support of his debut recording, Mirror, guitarist and composer Miles Okazaki will be appearing at The 55 Bar on Monday, February 12 and at The Jazz Gallery on April 12. These appearances are part of a series of concerts to celebrate Okazaki's long-awaited debut recording. Okazaki, who was the runner up in the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition in 2005, will be joined on stage by some of New York City's most revered musicians: February 12-Miles Okazaki (guitar, compositions), David Binney (alto sax), Christof Knoche (reeds), Thomas Morgan (bass) and Dan Weiss (drums): April 12-Miles Okazaki (guitar, compositions), Miguel Zenon & David Binney (alto sax), Christof Knoche (reeds), Jon Flaugher (bass) and Dan Weiss (drums)-April 12.

For the recording of Mirror, Okazaki assembled his quintet which had been rehearsing and performing his compositions for several years and augmented it with two more musicians, David Binney and Chris Potter. The recording is a fifteen part suite which represents the first documentation of the intricate compositional style that Okazaki has developed in dialogue with this close-knit group of New York musicians. Mirror, which features Okazaki's brilliant explorations into the endless variety of rhythmic-based composition, will be followed by two more recordings built on harmonic and melodic structures, completing a trilogy that will outline Miles' unique musical language.

“Mirror is a landmark in recorded guitar literature. It represents a unique blending of jazz and world music, flawlessly executed by the best and brightest young jazz musicians of today. Miles' compositions are rich and complex, filling the mind with visions and ideas, while at the same time, they are drenched with soulfulness and feeling through his amazing guitar artistry. Mirror is a must for anyone who wants to catch the musical wave of the future. For musicians, it should be studied as an example of guitar, compositional, and musical genius, woven together in a tapestry of sound. I have found Mirror to be inspiring and motivating as a player and a listener. You will too." - Rodney Jones

“I've been impressed with Miles Okazaki since I first had the opportunity to play with him last year at the Thelonious Monk competition. To me, he represents the essence of why jazz is alive and well. He's thoroughly grounded in the roots & traditions but not afraid to explore the far reaches of new & creative ideas. So I was eager to check out his new CD and was delighted to discover all the fascinating and adventurous new music it contains. Now I'm even more of a fan and highly recommend that you check it out!" - Bob James

Miles (not a stage name, but a family name) Okazaki was born in 1974 in Pullman, Washington. As a child, he grew up around the visual arts, wandering the halls of the University of Washington Art Department where his father taught photography, and drawing in the studio of his mother, a painter. He began teaching himself classical guitar and learning Beatles songs at the age of six, developing a prodigious technique and musical ear at an early age. At this same period of time, he moved to the Pacific Northwest, to the small waterfront town of Port Townsend. The natural beauty of this environment is still his primary inspiration.

As a teenager, he developed a love for numbers, and by the time he went to college, at Harvard University, he wanted to be a mathematician. By this time, he had already won many awards and notoriety as a local jazz guitarist in the Northwest. Driving an ice cream truck in Seattle after high school, he bought his first jazz guitar and began writing music. He moved to Boston the next fall.

During college years, he developed a love for words, and wanted to be a writer. But by the end of college, he had become drawn back again to the visual arts, and spent most of his last year in the photography and drawing studios at Harvard's Carpenter Center. At the same time, Okazaki was spending summers in New Orleans, keeping his guitar technique together and courting the idea of a music career.

Moving to New York after college, he entered the graduate program at Manhattan School of Music. He began to gain local attention, playing in New York and taking first place at the Fish-Middleton Jazz Competition in Washington, D.C. During this time, he studied with Garry Dial, Manny Albam, and guitarist Rodney Jones.

Working with Jones after graduation, he learned how to arrange and prepare recording sessions, and the ins and outs of the music business, working with artists such as Donald Harrison, Ernestine Anderson, Ruth Brown, Jimmy McGriff, and Lena Horne. He also began to pick up serious sideman work, with Regina Carter, Stanley Turrentine, Lenny Pickett, Allan Harris, and others. During this time, he pursued private study of many kinds of world music, most notably Brazilian guitar technique and Classical Indian rhythmic theory. These studies informed his ever increasing body of compositions, which he performed around New York as a bandleader.

Notable events soon followed: In 2002, he began touring the world with jazz vocalist Jane Monheit, with whom he still works. In 2003 he wrote a book on the complete permutations of small rhythmic patterns within four beats. In 2004 he completed a duet recording with drummer Dan Weiss of a complete tabla solo translated onto drumset, and recently finished recording the second record of this series. In 2005, he entered the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition and won 2nd place, with judges including Bill Frisell and Pat Martino, which gave him the funding to finally pursue the documentation of his original compositions. Okazaki's circuitious route to this point informs his compositional style. He combines inspiration from the visual impressions of his youth, a goal of representing fundamental mathematical proportions and structures in music, concepts of narrative structure learned in his literary studies, specific stylistic elements of Indian, Brazilian, and Classical music through his collaborative projects, and a deep respect for song form, from years of playing jazz and working with vocalists. Okazaki's debut record Mirror is focused on a variety of rhythmic structures. He plans to release two more records in the near future, focused on harmonic and melodic concepts, to form a trilogy of recordings that will outline his the foundation of his musical language.

“Mirror is the culmination of five years of work, and the results are simply outstanding... This is not your typical jazz guitar recording with a 'listen to my chops' persona, but make no mistake about it: Okazaki's performance and writing are at the center of every piece - with vivid rhythm and chord work, intense solos, harmonic string colorizations, in a variety of moods both intense and tender. Though each piece is individually satisfying, the overall concept is better appreciated upon listening to the recording in its entirety, as the connected members form an elaborate and cohesive matrix. . . . From the tension- building and explosive “Volcano," where Okazaki's guitar rocks amidst a magma flow of horns and drums, to the peaceful “Chorale," Mirror is a dynamic work of ingenuity. This intelligent, unique recording is one of this year's best releases." - Mark F. Turner, All About Jazz


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