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Violinist Meg Okura Releases New Album 'Lingering' On Adhyâropa Records—Available Now


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Achingly beautiful… the performance is superb.
—The Ear
Meg Okura
In Celebration of National Chamber Music Month and Asian American Heritage Month

Available Adhyaropa Records and and all major online retailers

Hailed as “the queen of chamber jazz (All About Jazz),” Tokyo-native violinist Meg Okura and American jazz pianist Kevin Hays celebrate the release of their debut album as a duo, Lingering on Adhyâropa Records (#AR00061). With recognition such as the highly competitive Jazz Road Tours grant, which took them over 5,000 miles to Hawaii, Okura and Hays have been collaborating for a decade since their serendipitous encounter on a New York City bus in 2014. Lingering showcases the remarkable synergy and confidence they share, evident from their transcendent exploration of musical possibility. They engage in a musical dialogue using only the raw essence of two instruments without overdubs or effects, exploring a spectrum of textures and tones, inviting listeners into unfiltered emotions of intimacy and vulnerability.

For Hays, whose discography boasts numerous duo projects with jazz contemporaries such as Brad Mehldau, Lionel Loueke, and Bill Stewart, the connection with Okura was immediate and undeniable. Their collaboration, unlike many others, is not born from shared musical associations or cultural backgrounds. Hays and Okura hail from disparate musical traditions—Hays, a jazz pianist with a sound steeped in the post-bop and modern jazz tradition, boasts a storied career working with luminaries such as Sonny Rollins and John Scofield, while Okura's journey from concert violinist to rising star in the world of jazz composition has earned her acclaim from the likes of the International Society of Jazz Arranger and Composers.

“Kevin grounds me in a gentler, earthier realm, as his aesthetic is deeply rooted in traditions, extending from post-bop to Americana, and reaching farther back to the works of J.S. Bach. When playing so freely as a duo, even on written pieces, my perfect pitch becomes a lifeline, seamlessly catching every chord while my instincts anticipate his next move. When I go into the Bach-like counterpoint, Kevin catches me within two beats and starts creating his counter melody. Kevin knows how to trust his duo partners and, more importantly, his adeptness in creating music no matter what happens during a tune or lack thereof. I love this attitude and the challenge that comes with it! It’s an adventure that I welcome!”—Meg Okura

Throughout Lingering, Okura and Hays weave a tapestry of sound and emotion, from melancholic beauty to haunting echoes to boundless expressions bursting with dynamism. The album comprises 11 short melodies by Okura, including “Seven Short Pieces”—a Jewish-influenced suite written for this duo during the Pandemic. “Waltz for Wollesen,” by Hays has previously been recorded on his 2019 album Where Are Youwith Mark Turner and Marc Miralta . In this duo version, the piece takes on new life, and they recorded what Okura calls the “Brahms’s version of Kevin Hays.” The album also includes two entirely improvised tracks demonstrating just how differently the duo approaches free improvisation. Even within the composed pieces, Okura leaves ample room for interpretation and improvisation. Drawing inspiration from both classical and jazz composers from Olivier Messiaen to Oliver Nelson, or Schuman to Ellington, Okura uses big classical sounds as well as tender whispers of harmonics, to col legno batuto, to the “chop” technique to create a percussive groove. As the album reaches its poignant denouement with the title track, “Lingering," Okura's single note and Hays' last chord hang in the air like a whispered promise, never fully resolving.

About Meg Okura

Grammy-nominated Meg Okura is a jazz composer and violinist based in New York, known for her music praised by The New York Times as “grandiloquent beauty that transitions easily from grooves to big cascades to buoyant swing.” As a Tokyo native, Okura's journey in the U.S. began with a solo concerto debut at the Kennedy Center in 1992. She earned B.M. and M.M. degrees from the Juilliard School in violin performance. Okura has performed at esteemed venues worldwide, including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and Hollywood Bowl.

Ms. Okura leads her 10-piece Pan Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble, performing at renowned venues including Birdland Jazz Club and Blue Note. She has released seven albums under her name. The group’s fifth album, featuring Randy Brecker, is in the works for release later this year. Additionally, Okura is the musical director and arranger of the Sakamoto Tribute Ensemble, dedicated to performing works by Ryuichi Sakamoto. As a soloist, she has performed with jazz greats including Lee Konitz, Michael Brecker, Tom Harrell and Steve Swallow, to name a few.

Okura began her musical journey as the soloist and concertmaster of the Asian Youth Orchestra in her teenage years. Her classical chamber music composition Phantasmagoria will be performed at the LunART Festival on June 1, 2024. She will also be spending part of the summer at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts as the recipient of the 50th Anniversary VCCA Fellowships for Artists of Color. Okura is the winner of the 2023 ISJAC (International Society of Jazz Arrangers and Composers) Fundamental Freedoms Commission Prize, whose premiere will take place on May 18, 2024, at Vanderbilt University. Okura’s latest commissioned work, as the winner of the 2024 Wa-hi Jazz Composition Competition, will be performed by her Pan Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble in New York City on November 2, 2024.

About Kevin Hays

“There are plenty of talented pianists… but few have Hays’ melodic charms and sense of style.” (The New Yorker) Grammy Award-winning jazz pianist, composer, and singer/songwriter Kevin Hays’s many recordings have received critical acclaim from The New York Times, Downbeat Magazine and Jazz Times, as well as the “Coup de Coeur” award from the Académie Charles Cros (France). Kevin has appeared on numerous albums as a guest artist, recording with Chris Potter, Bill Stewart, Joshua Redman, Jeff Ballard, Nicholas Payton, and Al Foster, among many others. Notable collaborations include a piano duo project with Brad Mehldau (Modern Music—Nonesuch), world tours with James Taylor, Sonny Rollins, John Scofield, Joe Henderson, and Roy Haynes.

Hope, the highly anticipated 2019 collaboration with Beninese guitarist Lionel Loueke, was released on Edition Records. Their music moves effortlessly between melodic serenity and rhythmic interplay, highlighting the beauty and intimacy of the piano/acoustic guitar format. Hays co-wrote several compositions on Steve Gadd Band’s eponymous album which garnered the 2019 GRAMMY Award for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album. The album features Kevin’s own ‘Spring Song’, the sole vocal track. KevinHays.com

Concert Schedule

APR 7 An Appalachian Spring @ PRO-ART Cantrell Banquet Hall, Wise, VA
MAY 10 Anxiety and Hope in Japanese Art lecture concert @ Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC
MAY 18 World premiere of Silent Screams: An Anthem for the Unheard
Okura’s commissioned work for Ryan Middagh Jazz Orchestra @ Vanderbilt University Nashville, TN
MAY 19 The Global Unity Project with Ensemble KATAN @ West End Synagogue, Nashville, TN
JUN 1 LunART Festival presents Okura’s Phantasmagoria @ The Hamel Music Center, Madison, WI
JUN 26 Pan Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble @ Cabrini Shrine, NYC

This album was made possible with the support of Jazz Road, a national initiative of South Arts, which is funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation with additional support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

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Track Listing

Improvisation No. 1; Without Words; Again and Again; Will You Hear My Voice; Seven Short Pieces: I.Aleph; Seven Short Pieces: II. Blues Kachol; Seven Short Pieces: III. Mi is Who is He is She; Seven Short Pieces: IV. Maim Korim; Seven Short Pieces: V. Shamaim; Seven Short Pieces: VI. Lilah; Seven Short Pieces: VII. Hora Tarantella; Waltz For Wollesen; Improvisation No. 2; Lingering.


Meg Okura

Album information

Title: Lingering | Year Released: 2024 | Record Label: Adhyâropa Records






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