July/August 2007

Miles Okazaki

On his ambitious solo debut, guitarist-composer Miles Okazaki has conceived a heady, extended work comprised of three organic suites of strikingly original material that draws on Hindustani classical, South Indian Carnatic, Iranian and Cameroonian music, as well as the influences of J.S. Bach, Steve Coleman and John Coltrane. And while these mathematically precise, chamber-like compositions operate with a strict internal logic based on 12-tone rows, cycles and myriad complex subdivisions, there is still room for improvisation by a crew of killer soloists, including saxophonists Dave Binney, Miguel Zenón and Chris Potter and bass clarinetist Christof Knoche. Drummer Dan Weiss provides an authentic Indian touch with tabla on “Invention” while also swinging deftly on the kit on “Momentum.” Okazaki contributes several tasty acoustic guitar parts throughout, stomps on the wah-wah and distortion pedals on the urgently slamming funk of “Howl” and the turbulent grunge manifesto “Volcano,” then goes toe-to-toe with Potter on the freewheeling “Improvisation,” based on the changes to Trane’s “Countdown.” A longstanding accompanist to jazz diva Jane Monheit, Okazaki has clearly had more things bubbling inside his brain than chordal voicings for a whole book of jazz standards.

Originally published in July/August 2007
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