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Take Five With Miles Okazaki

AAJ Staff By

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Meet Miles Okazaki:

Miles Okazaki lives in Brooklyn, where he plays guitar, writes music, and draws pictures.

Instrument:

Guitar

Teachers and/or influences?

Teachers: Rodney Jones, Ganesh Kumar, Michael Townsend, Steve Coleman, my fellow musicians and friends.

Influences: It's a hard question...right now I will say, Melody: J.S. Bach, Wayne Shorter, Charlie Parker, Lester Young, Milton Nascimento, Beatles, Nikhil Banerjee, Ornette Coleman; Harmony: Thelonious Monk, J.S. Bach (again), Messaien, Bartok, Coltrane, Elliott Carter, Morton Feldman, Ellington, Stevie Wonder; Rhythm: Max Roach, Elvin Jones, John Bonham, Thelonious Monk (again), Wynton Kelly, Ahmad Jamal, Keith Jarrett, Gyorgy Ligeti, Stravinsky, James Brown, Otis Redding, Joao Bosco, Hermeto Pascoal, Doudou Ndiaye Rose, Karaikudi Mani, Umayalpuram Sivaraman, Anindo Chatterjee, Charlie Christian, Freddie Green...

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...

I heard the White Album (age 9)

Your sound and approach to music:

The sound is whatever is made in the particular moment. The approach should be made carefully, so that the sound doesn't run away.

Your teaching approach:

Students come to you for a reason, so I try to give them my best, as my teachers have given me. Of course, they also have to practice.

Your dream band:

The band on my last record (2009) (Miguel Zenon, David Binney, Christof Knoche, Jen Shyu, Jon Flaugher, Dan Weiss). Also good would be Paul McCartney, Sonny Rollins, and Glenn Gould.

Favorite venue:

Jazz Gallery, NYC: Home base

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically?

That's for someone else to say—or really, anyone else, because each individual decides what is important to them. My goal would be to make some kind of inclusive music that can reach a diverse collection of people on different levels, emotion, body, intellect, story, drama, imagery, etc. If it was important to enough people in a concrete way, then I guess you could say it was worth the effort.

How you use the internet to help your career?

For everything. Website, mailing lists, publicity, sales, email, lessons, checking out other musicians. It's now possible for artists to have complete control of every aspect of their career. On the other hand, this can be time-consuming and can take you away from your instrument and creative flow. I think most musicians nowadays are dealing with some version of this issue.

CDs you are listening to now:

Sonny Stitt, Jazz at the Hi-Hat;

Ahmad Jamal, at the Blackhawk;

Richard Pryor, Wanted;

Richard Strauss, Metamorphosen;

James Brown, Live in Zaire;

Thelonious Monk, Alone in San Francisco

Desert Island picks:

J.S. Bach, Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin (Grumiaux);

Wayne Shorter, Atlantis;

Karaikudi R. Mani, Sruthi Laya;

Stevie WonderFulfillingness First Finale;

Karaikudi R. Mani, Sruthi Laya;

Joao Bosco, Ao Vivo;

The Beatles, Magical Mystery Tour;

John Coltrane, John Coltrane Quartet Plays.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing?

Willingness of audiences and musicians to have an open mind, free of expectations. Curiosity for new sounds, courage to give up old ones. Willingness of musicians to engage an audience. Willingness of an audience to engage with the musicians. Money also helps.

What is in the near future?

New projects of my own for solo guitar, trio, and septet. Sideman projects. A lot of phone calls, emails, and cups of coffee.

By Day:

Dad.

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