“The queen of chamber jazz,”

All About Jazz

a complete artist and a major one at that, who is unafraid to experiment and weave many musical worlds into one.”

All About Jazz

Jazz composer and violinist Meg Okura uses the Pan Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble to negotiate her conflicting identities: a Japanese immigrant Jew by choice, and a mother of a black Jew, and a violinist in jazz.

 

She has released six albums under her name since the founding of the PACJE in 2006. Her Pan Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble has performed nationally and internationally, including Winter Jazz Fest, Dizzy's Club Coca Cola at Jazz At Lincoln Center, Blue Note New York, Birdland, KL Jazz Festival (Malaysia), and Levitt Pavilion Los Angeles, and the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.

Her recent honors include Copland Residency Awards, Chamber Music America New Jazz Works (Doris Duke Charitable Foundation), Jazz Road Creative Residencies, and other grants. Her compositions have been performed by BMI/New York Jazz Orchestra, New York Symphonic Ensemble, Sirius Quartet, and other jazz and chamber music groups.
Native of Tokyo and formerly a concert violinist, Okura toured Asia as the soloist and concertmaster of the Asian Youth Orchestra as a teen. She moved to the U.S. in 1992 and made her solo concerto debut at Kennedy Center with the late Alexander Schneider's New York String Orchestra. She then earned B.M. and M.M. degrees from the Juilliard School as a classical violinist, only to make a difficult shift to becoming a jazz musician. As a violinist, she has appeared at Carnegie Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center, The Barbican, Madison Square Garden, Village Vanguard, Blue Note Tokyo, Hollywood Bowl, and numerous festivals and concert halls worldwide.

Okura's credit appears on over 100 albums/films/live videos, including David Bowie, Michael Brecker, Lee Konitz, Steve Swallow, Diane Reeves, Tom Harrell, Vince Giordano, Jeremy Pelt, Sam Newsome, and Grammy-nominated album by Emilio Solla y La Inestable de Brooklyn.

In 2016, she held a week-long residency at the Stone in New York City, performing and presenting 12 concerts with her ten different groups.

In 2018, she placed No. 6 Jazz Violinist in the International Critics Polls.

“From Asia to Africa and the Americas, and from classical to jazz—via the inspiration of electronic music—Okura sees beauty everywhere and translates it into her own exquisite idiom.”

All About Jazz