320

Miles Okazaki: Mirror

Mark F. Turner By

Sign in to view read count
Miles Okazaki: Mirror Mirror is the culmination of five years of work, and the results are simply outstanding. A finalist in the 2005 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Guitar Competition, Miles Okazaki is an active musician in New York who is involved in a variety of projects, including his regular recording and touring gigs with jazz vocalist Jane Monheit.

Though he's been busy on other fronts, he's also stayed focused on his own ideas as a musician and composer. Okazaki states "I'm keeping one foot in the straight-ahead world, touring with Jane Monheit and various other things, but I think you'll find this to be something different. And indeed Mirror is.

This three-part suite of fifteen rhythmic explorations reflects Okazaki's diverse interests, including studies of North and South Indian music and global influences such as Brazilian, African, and Middle Eastern music. His primary influences for these compositions are classical composer Johann Sebastian Bach and the great jazz saxophonist John Coltrane. Okazaki's score is executed flawlessly, yet it allows creative liberties by providing an open conduit between structure and improvisation.

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.

Another key to the equation is the support from a stellar cast of progressive musicians, including several notables: saxophonists Miguel Zenon, Dave Binney, Chris Potter; and drummer Dan Weiss. The band is rounded out by solid work from bassist Jon Flaugher and multi-reed player Christof Knoche, whose playing adds shades of texture.

The journey begins with a multilingual count-off on "Theme I introducing guitar, drums, and bass clarinets. Okazaki's rhythm work elevates "Mirror I, which features twisting horns vamps and a wonderful alto sax solo by Zenon. "Howl contains a funky backbone with a nice riff, heated drumming and an outlandish guitar solo.

A few of the many highlights include Dan Weiss' Indian tabla solo on "Invention, the swinging and layered solo sections on "Momentum, and the complex (49-beat rhythmic cycle) groove of "Canon, featuring frame drums and scorching sax solos by Binney and Knoche. "Halfway, one of the more moving pieces, explores an emotive theme with bass guitar and bass clarinet solos. Chris Potter also guests on "Improvisation, trading free solos with Okazaki, along with programmed drum samples which echo their inventions.

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.

Track Listing: Theme I; Spiral; Mirror I; Howl; Invention; Theme II; Metamorphosis; Halfway; Momentum; Canon; Theme III; Improvisation; Volcano; Mirror II; Chorale.

Personnel: Miles Okazaki: guitars (1-15), percussion (2,10), computer (12,13); Dan Weiss: drums (1-15), tabla (5), percussion (10) drum samples (12); Christof Knoche: soprano (2-5,7,8, 13,14), alto sax (5,9,10,15), bass clarinet (1,5,6,8,11,13), harmonica (5); David Binney: alto saxophone (4-6,8,10,13-15); Miguel Zenon: alto saxophone(3,7,9); Chris Potter: tenor saxophone (12).

Title: Mirror | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Self Produced


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Ballet: The Music Of Michael Gibbs CD/LP/Track Review Ballet: The Music Of Michael Gibbs
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: July 23, 2017
Read Float The Edge CD/LP/Track Review Float The Edge
by John Sharpe
Published: July 23, 2017
Read Resonance CD/LP/Track Review Resonance
by Karl Ackermann
Published: July 23, 2017
Read Black Focus CD/LP/Track Review Black Focus
by Rokas Kucinskas
Published: July 23, 2017
Read Birdhoused CD/LP/Track Review Birdhoused
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: July 22, 2017
Read "The Picasso Zone" CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read "House Of Waters" CD/LP/Track Review House Of Waters
by Roger Farbey
Published: November 14, 2016
Read "Trinity One" CD/LP/Track Review Trinity One
by Geannine Reid
Published: May 31, 2017
Read "Begin to Dance" CD/LP/Track Review Begin to Dance
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: March 19, 2017
Read "Truth, Liberty & Soul Live in New York: The Complete NPR Jazz Alive! Recording" CD/LP/Track Review Truth, Liberty & Soul Live in New York: The Complete...
by John Kelman
Published: May 20, 2017
Read "Alto Manhattan" CD/LP/Track Review Alto Manhattan
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 18, 2016

Support All About Jazz: MAKE A PURCHASE  

Support our sponsor

Upgrade Today!

Musician? Boost your visibility at All About Jazz and drive traffic to your website with our Premium Profile service.

Donate!