Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

202

Meg Okura: Naima

Dan McClenaghan By

Sign in to view read count
Naima is the name of one of saxophonist John Coltrane's more famous compositions. It's also the name of Japanese violinist Meg Okura's CD release. Joined by her nine-piece Pan Asian Jazz Ensemble, Okura has honed a finely-crafted set of chamber jazz, with all players being equals, and all players getting their chances to play the melody, and to improvise.

Coltrane might seem an unlikely vehicle for a string player, if you haven't heard the Turtle Island String Quartet dig very successfully into "A Love Supreme" on the 2004 Telarc Records CD of the same name. Naima opens with the title tune, and Okura employs two flutes, a cello and piano/bass/drums jazz rhythm section for an airy and luminous take on the jazz classic. Okura's violin has a sharply yearning tone, and the ensemble lends a classical mood that leans distinctly Eastward.

The rest of the set showcases Okura's writing, which is complex and airy and bright, a very technically adept jazz/classical mixture. "Afrasia" melds African and Asia influences, with the lilting Asian motifs floating over darker, more ominous themes.

Precision and technical virtuosity prevail, married to pulse and drive and energy. Okura's four part, thirty minute "Lu Chai Suite" is the highlight of the set. It was underwritten by the American Composers Forum and was inspired by Wang Wei, a poet from the Chinese Tang Dynasty. Part one, "Empty Mountain" is written in the style of the American folk song, with the Okura playing the Chinese instrument, the erhu, a two string violin, lending an Asian tint to the tune.

Part Two, "Echo of Voices" has hard driving, funky sections interspersed with delicate, lighter than air beauty. Inspired by kan-shi, the Japanese version of Chinese poetry, the tune features the different instruments playing different figures in various rhythmic groupings.

Part Four, "Sunlight," has a fittingly bright feeling, with the ensemble sounding larger and lusher than expected, with its classical influence in the forefront.

"Green Moss," the last part of the suite, is a hymn for eternal peace between the Chinese and Japanese. It closes an exotic East/West chamber jazz set on a note of gorgeous tranquility.

Track Listing: Naima; Hannah's Vocalese; Caprice; Afrasia, San San Nana Byoshi; Lu Chai I: Empty Mountain; Lu Chai II: Echo of Voices; Lu Chai III: Sunlight; Lu Chai IV: Green Moss.

Personnel: Meg Okura: violin, erhu; Anne Drummond: flute; Jun Kubo: shinobue, flute; Rubin Kodheli: cello; Mamiko Kitaura: piano; Jennifer Vincent: bass; Willard Dyson: drums; Satoshi Takeishi: percussion; Dave Eggar: cello (5).

Title: Naima | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Self Produced


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Take Five With...
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles

More Articles

Read Rain or Shine CD/LP/Track Review Rain or Shine
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 15, 2017
Read Copenhagen Live 1964 CD/LP/Track Review Copenhagen Live 1964
by John Sharpe
Published: December 15, 2017
Read Somewhere Glimmer CD/LP/Track Review Somewhere Glimmer
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 15, 2017
Read Lighthouse CD/LP/Track Review Lighthouse
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 15, 2017
Read Lattice CD/LP/Track Review Lattice
by John Sharpe
Published: December 14, 2017
Read I Think I’m Going To Eat Dessert CD/LP/Track Review I Think I’m Going To Eat Dessert
by Mark Corroto
Published: December 14, 2017
Read "La Diversité" CD/LP/Track Review La Diversité
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 31, 2017
Read "Atlantic Bridge" CD/LP/Track Review Atlantic Bridge
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 12, 2017
Read "Trail Magic" CD/LP/Track Review Trail Magic
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 19, 2017
Read "Prague After Dark" CD/LP/Track Review Prague After Dark
by Jack Bowers
Published: March 16, 2017
Read "Ha Noi Duo" CD/LP/Track Review Ha Noi Duo
by Ian Patterson
Published: March 27, 2017
Read "Live with a Boom" CD/LP/Track Review Live with a Boom
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: March 19, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!