Meg Okura & The Pan Asian Jazz Ensemble at Dizzy's August 20th
On August 20th, violinist and composer Meg Okura along with the Pan Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble will be presenting their new album "Ima Ima" at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center. Okura will be joined by trumpet and flugelhornist Tom Harrell, flute and alto flutist Anne Drummond, soprano saxophonist Sam Newsome, bass clarinetist Sam Sadigursky, harpist Riza Printup, guitarist Rez Abbasi, pianist Brian Marsella, bassist Pablo Aslan, and drummer Jared Schonig.
This is an important concert for Okura who has had a banner year thus far having released two critically acclaimed albums including "NPO Trio: Live at the Stone" in March.
What critics are saying about "Ima Ima":
"The manner in which all of these aspects and artists magically meld together goes beyond words. Okura and her music are truly in a class of their own." - Dan Bilawksy, All About Jazz
"...the self-released "Ima Ima", credited to Okura and the Pan Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble featuring trumpeter Tom Harrell is a gorgeous, intricately arranged offering that, in her words, "took several years of work putting each note on paper." - Michael Roberts, Jazziz
"Ms. Okura was able to create magical crossover soundscapes with intimacy and subtlety, resorting to a pure lyricism and fascinating collective passages that never put the homogeneity of the whole into question." - Filipe Freitas, Jazz Trail
With unique instrumentation including erhu (Japanese flute) IMA IMA brings together some of New York’s finest jazz artists including Sam Newsome, Pablo Aslan, Anne Drummond, Brian Marsella, Rez Abbasi, Sam Sadigursky and Riza Printup as well as special guest trumpeter Tom Harrell. Hailed by the New York Times as “vibrant” and “sophisticated”, Okura’s Pan Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble presents IMA IMA as a celebration of womanhood, particularly motherhood.
Okura became an Ima (meaning mother in Hebrew) seven years ago, so along with being a tribute to Okura’s grandmother, who recently passed away, it is only fitting that IMA IMA will be released on Mother’s Day this year. Okura explains that although many refer to this period of time as an interruption, she prefers to regard it as a constant state of disruptions.
“The earliest compositions on this album being the ones from my pregnancy period only support that claim. However, I do not believe motherhood has had a negative impact on my music.”
Okura explains that disruptions forced her to think more creatively and resourcefully, and so inevitably made her music stronger. It inspired the Japanese native towards integrity, and excellence in her composition, improvisation and performance. Being anything other than the first-rate was not acceptable.
“The last thing I wanted to do as a mother was to use motherhood as an excuse for not being able to achieve excellence.”
Ima Ima - (L'dor Vador) by The Pan Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble was supported by New Music USA, made possible by annual program support and/or endowment gifts from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Francis Goelet Charitable Lead Trusts, Anonymous. To follow the project as it unfolds, visit the project page:
MORE ABOUT MEG OKURA
Formerly a concert violinist, Okura made her U.S. solo debut at the Kennedy Center with the late Alexander Schneider’s New York String Orchestra. She then moved to New York City and earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in classical violin from The Julliard School. Advancing her career as a jazz violinist while at the Henry Mancini Institute in Los Angeles, Okura was soloist and the concertmaster for the orchestra backing up Herbie Hancock, Shirley Horn, Diana Krall, and Terence Blanchard, under the batons of music icons as Quincy Jones, Jerry Goldsmith, and Jack Elliot.
Okura quickly became one of the most sought-after violinists on New York City’s music scene, appearing on dozens of recordings with a wide range of artists including David Bowie, Lee Konitz, Diane Reeves, Heidi Grand-Murphy, Sam Newsome, Jesse Harris, Jeremy Pelt, Ziggy Marley and many more. She has toured internationally with the late Michael Brecker, Steve Swallow, Tom Harrell, appearing at venues such as Carnegie Hall, The Barbican, Madison Square Garden, Village Vanguard, Blue Note Tokyo, Hollywood Bowl and at numerous festivals and concert halls around the world. In 2016, Okura held a week-long residency at the Stone in New York City, performing and presenting 12 concerts with her 10 different groups.
Recipient of numerous grants and awards including Metlife Creative Connections Grant (Meet The Composer), Brand Personality Award (Asia Pacific Brands Foundation), Manhattan Community Arts Fund (Lower Manhattan Cultural Council), Jerome Composers Commissioning Program (American Composers Forum), and most recently, New Music USA Project Grant, Okura has also composed/ arranged for several film and television programs such as The Congregation (documentary) and Louie (TV series), as well as, the New York Symphonic Ensemble, Sirius String Quartet, and C. Eule Dance.
She has herself also appeared on many movie soundtracks as a violinist, and erhu player, has been featured in three Cirque du Soleil productions (Varekai, Wintuk and Corteo), and has collaborated and performed with Oscar nominee actor and Columbia recording artist Terrence Howard. For the past ten years, Okura has also been a member of a Jewish/Middle Eastern band “Pharaoh’s Daughter” led by ex-orthodox singer-songwriter and cantor Basya Schechter.