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Miles Okazaki: Generations

Raul d'Gama Rose By

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Myriad ideas collide and interact on Miles Okazaki's follow-up to Mirror: his latest offering, Generations. These ideas span not only musical forms and concepts but also cultures—from Indian to European and American. The music also leaps across various artistic disciplines—philosophical, mathematical and visual—to render one central ostensible idea: that all sound is an experience shaped by the tangible and intangible in both an infinite and finite measure of time and space.

Generations is a series of songs that grow organically out of a central theme: that music was born from fertile ideas that lie hidden in the tones of the pentatonic scale. Conceptually, the nine tracks on the record take the form of an hourglass, also likened to the "dumaru," a drum played in the Hindustani music of Northern India. At the beginning of "Overture" (track one) all twelve tones of the pentatonic scales are utilized in the spontaneous creation of the melody and the development of the harmony. This, in turn is explored in gradually shrinking concentric circles that reach the densest possible part of the "hourglass"—about the time of the fifth song, the title track, "Generations." Here, tone clusters jostle, bump and grind as Dan Flaugher's bass sparkles against the harmonic invention of Miguel Zenon's alto saxophone. Okazaki's guitar is the glue that binds the triads around Dan Weiss' rolling and splashing drums. From then on, from tracks six through nine, the suite whips around and returns to the kinetic elasticity of the pentatonic scale.

The true magnificence of this music owes itself to the fine musicians who bring it to life. The saxophonists—Miguel Zenon, David Binney and Christof Knoche—drummer Dan Weiss, bassist Jon Flaugher and guitarist Miles Okazaki express the evolving music with triumphant human spirit. Although she is relatively inconspicuous, the beautiful soprano of Jen Shyu is the first instrument of "Generations," the seemingly heraldic voice behind the song's creative energy. Combined, all of these talented artists give this album a life of its own, from the conception of the twists and turns of this tense cycle, down to its final note.

Track Listing: Overture; Sun; Waves; Magic; Generations; Ghosts; Fractal; Break; Moon.

Personnel: Miguel Zenon, David Binney and Christof Knoche: alto saxophones; Jen Shyu: voice; Miles Okazaki: electric guitar; Dan Weiss: drums; Jon Flaugher: bass.

Title: Generations | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Sunnyside Records


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