40

Miles Okazaki: Figurations

Raul d'Gama Rose By

Sign in to view read count
Guitarist Miles Okazaki's Figurations is a fascinating document of how musical invention takes place on the spur of the moment. It is not a mad conglomeration of notes that come out in jagged clusters, but a mellifluous harmolodic excursion by four spectacular musicians as they begin to create music on each of their instruments, with their own ideas flowing organically, yet directed by the composer, Okazaki, who defines how the melody should sound by stating its antecedents and basic idea. If all this sounds familiar, it is because Miles Okazaki—a subscriber to the M-base principles of the organic development of improvised music—has, on this record, completed the circle that began with 2006'sMirror (Self-Produced), followed by Generations (Sunnyside, 2009). On Mirror, Okazaki laid out his fascinating theory, which attempted to meld the mathematics of musical balance and creation with the forces of nature, as dictated by the human heart and brain. Generations further stretched this fusion of logic and imagination in remarkable musical design of song, unfolding naturally and beautifully, but by design in the controlled environment of the recording studio.

On Figurations, Okazaki's quartet develops music in a live setting and revealing insights into the heart of musical creativity and, therefore, into the minds of each of the musicians. Like a concerto played in the classical milieu, Okazaki's music is a continuous duel of individual instruments with the accompanying ensemble as the music is propelled onward and forward, emanating from an original melodic idea, but always moving outward in a fresh direction. Each song is a Medusa-like living organism; the difference being that it is, of course, a constructive force that nevertheless deconstructs the original idea with each new reimagining of Okazaki's original ideas.

And so, there is the colorful rhythmic pattern of "Dozens," rendered in various changing hues, with saxophone and guitar interweaving the melodic motif and provoking wildly different solos. "Wheel" is written as a triple-voiced canon, mimicking the motions of a wheel that turns with irregular rhythmic patterns, then settling into a repetitive circular device before coming to rest after going through a new and irregular rhythmic design all over again. "Mandala," with its beguiling Occidental pattern, is a feature for emergent drummer Dan Weiss, who has given new meaning to the word, "polyrhythm." Here, Weiss reveals his glorious chops by improvising over complex time signatures.

The other fascinating feature is "Corazón," written for saxophonist Miguel Zenon. The music is based on the rhythmic beat of the heart, which is really a metaphor for the pulse of the soul.

This record brings to an end one of the most fascinating musical cycles, and also sets its guitarist and composer, Okazaki for some hard thought. Where will his music flow next? From which nook and cranny of the mind and soul will it emerge?

Track Listing: Dozens; Rain; Wheel; Figurations (Intro); Figurations; Mandala; Loom; Corazon.

Personnel: Miles Okazaki: guitar; Miguel Zenon: alto saxophone; Thomas Morgan: acoustic bass; Dan Weiss: drums.

Title: Figurations | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Sunnyside Records

Tags

Watch

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

General Articles
Album Reviews
Interviews
Album Reviews
Live Reviews
Take Five With...
Album Reviews
Read more articles
Work: The Complete Compositions of Thelonious Monk

Work: The Complete...

Self Produced
2018

buy
Work (Complete, Volumes 1​-​6)

Work (Complete,...

Self Produced
2018

buy
Trickster

Trickster

Pi Recordings
2017

buy
Figurations

Figurations

Sunnyside Records
2012

buy
Generations

Generations

Sunnyside Records
2010

buy
Generations

Generations

Sunnyside Records
2009

buy

Upcoming Shows

Date Detail Price
Sep20Fri
Miles Okazaki: Work
Bop Stop
Cleveland, OH
$15

Related Articles

Read New York Trio Album Reviews
New York Trio
By Troy Dostert
July 18, 2019
Read Visions Album Reviews
Visions
By Friedrich Kunzmann
July 18, 2019
Read Invincible Nimbus Album Reviews
Invincible Nimbus
By Jerome Wilson
July 18, 2019
Read Syzygy Album Reviews
Syzygy
By Don Phipps
July 18, 2019
Read Shafted Album Reviews
Shafted
By Edward Blanco
July 17, 2019
Read Live at the Bird’s Eye Jazz Club Album Reviews
Live at the Bird’s Eye Jazz Club
By Don Phipps
July 17, 2019
Read New Year Album Reviews
New Year
By Dan Bilawsky
July 17, 2019