The New York Times recently described jazz composer and violinist Meg Okura’s music as "grandiloquent beauty that transitions easily from grooves to big cascades to buoyant swing." No. 6 Jazz Violinist/Violist in the International Critics' Poll, Meg Okura blends East and West in modern jazz. Okura dares to combine erhu (Chinese violin) with the harp, bass clarinet, flutes and the soprano saxophone in her Pan Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble, a one-of-a-kind jazz group based in Harlem. The ensemble has released four albums- Meg Okura’s Pan Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble (2006), Naima (2010), and Music of Ryuichi Sakamoto (2013), and the Ima Ima (feat. Tom Harrell in 2018). From Lincoln Center to Levitt Pavillion in Los Angeles, Winter Jazz Fest to KL Jazz Festival in Malaysia, Knitting Factory to sold-out concerts in Japan, the PACJE has captivated audiences at home and abroad for over ten years.
A native of Tokyo, Meg Okura made her U.S. solo debut with the late Alexander Schneider’s New York String Orchestra at the Kennedy Center as a 19-year old concert violinist. With her two suitcases and a violin, she moved to New York City and earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in violin performance 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 has received the Grammy nomination as the violinist on the album Second Half by the Emilio Solla y la Inestable de Brooklyn in the 57th Annual GRAMMY Awards. Okura has also appeared on several dozens of recordings with a wide range of artists including David Bowie, Lee Konitz, Diane Reeves, Sam Newsome, Jesse Harris, and Ziggy Marley. 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 ten different groups.
Okura is a recipient of numerous grants and awards including the most recent (TBA), New Music USA Project Grant, Metlife Creative Connections Grant (Meet The Composer), Brand Personality Award (Asia Pacific Brands Foundation), Jerome Composers Commissioning Program (American Composers Forum). Okura's credit as a composer and arranger appear on several film and television programs such as The Congregation (documentary) and Louie (TV series). She has also composed for the New York Symphonic Ensemble, Sirius String Quartet, and C. Eule Dance.