Miles Okazaki: Cleaning the Mirror
"Now, some people are going to be curious about it," Okazaki continues. "Like Jen, she was interested in what was going on. I was like that in her band too, where I asked her about where those lyrics had come from. So, that helps me, if I'm playing in someone else's group. But some people don't want to do that and they just want to bring what they bring. Miguel [Zenón], for example, I've talked to very little about the concepts, but I have a feeling he already has his own version that's he's figured out. He has something he's worked on that helps him get his sound, so it's not my place to tell him otherwise."
As a musician working with multiple spheres of reality, it would be quite easy for Okazaki to get caught up, frustrated or doubtful. But he's explains that the distillation of these realities is what keeps him centered. "It's easy to get overwhelmed with all the things you think you should be doing, things you could be doing, things you could compare yourself to, the things you could get excited about and get sidetracked by, etcetera," the guitarist explains. "I'm trying to pick a few small things and work deeply on those things in a holistic way," Okazaki explains. "So if I'm interested in a cycle, let's look at all the different cycles there are. We have cycles in forms of music, we have cycles of the plants as they die every year, we have the cycle of this Venus transit that recently happened, and that happens every 105 years. To me, that gives me some sense of something I can deal with and not get overwhelmed."
Okazaki recalls a quote by saxophonist John Coltrane that served as the inspiration for naming the first record. It represents how he has continuously been able to refine his ideas and also determine what might happen next. "He [Coltrane] said, 'There is never any end. There are always new sounds to imagine, new feelings to get at. And always, there is the need to keep purifying these feelings and sounds so that we can really see what we've discovered in its pure state. So that we can see more and more clearly what we are. In that way, we can give, to those who listen, the essence, the best of what we are. But to do that at each stage, we have to keep on cleaning the mirror.'"
Miles Okazaki, Figurations (Sunnyside Records, 2012)
Patrick Cornelius, Maybe Steps (Positone Records, 2011)
Miles Okazaki, Generations (Sunnyside Records, 2009)
Jane Monheit, Surrender (Concord, 2007)
Miles Okazaki, Mirror (Self Produced, 2006)
Page 2: Juan Carlos Hernandez
Page 5: Eddy Westveer All Other Photos: Courtesy of Miles Okazaki