“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
Deemed the queen of chamber jazz by All About Jazz, the violinist-composer Meg Okura blends East and West in modern jazz. Her Pan Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble, a one-of-a-kind jazz group based in New York has released four albums- Meg Okura’s Pan Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble (2006), Naima (2010), and Music of Ryuichi Sakamoto (2013), and the Ima Ima (2018). From Lincoln Center to Levitt Pavillion in Los Angeles, Winter Jazz Fest to KL Jazz Festival in Malaysia, Knitting Factory to sold-out concerts in Japan, the PACJE has captivated audiences at home and abroad for over ten years.
A native of Tokyo, Meg Okura made her U.S. solo debut with the late Alexander Schneider’s New York String Orchestra at the Kennedy Center as a 19-year old concert violinist. With her two suitcases and a violin, she moved to New York City and earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in violin performance from The Julliard School. Advancing her career as a jazz violinist while at the Henry Mancini Institute in Los Angeles, Okura was soloist and the concertmaster for the orchestra backing up Herbie Hancock, Shirley Horn, Diana Krall, and Terence Blanchard, under the batons of music icons as Quincy Jones, Jerry Goldsmith, and Jack Elliot.
Okura has received the Grammy nomination as the violinist on the album Second Half by the Emilio Solla y la Inestable de Brooklyn in the 57th Annual GRAMMY Awards. Okura has also appeared on several dozens of recordings with a wide range of artists including David Bowie, Lee Konitz, Diane Reeves, Sam Newsome, Jesse Harris, to Ziggy Marley. She has toured internationally with the late Michael Brecker, Steve Swallow, Tom Harrell, appearing at venues such as Carnegie Hall, The Barbican, Madison Square Garden, Village Vanguard, Blue Note Tokyo, Hollywood Bowl and at numerous festivals and concert halls around the world. In 2016, Okura held a week-long residency at the Stone in New York City, performing and presenting 12 concerts with her ten different groups.
Okura is a recipient of numerous grants and awards including the most recent Chamber Music America's New Jazz Works Grant, New Music USA Project Grant, Metlife Creative Connections Grant (Meet The Composer), Brand Personality Award (Asia Pacific Brands Foundation), Jerome Composers Commissioning Program (American Composers Forum). Okura's credit as a composer and arranger appear on several film and television programs such as The Congregation (documentary) and Louie (TV series). She has also composed for the New York Symphonic Ensemble, Sirius String Quartet, and C. Eule Dance.
As a violinist and erhu player, she has been featured on many movie soundtracks, including The Wildest Dream. She has stared in three Cirque du Soleil productions (Varekai, Wintuk, and Corteo), and has collaborated and performed with Oscar nominee actor and Columbia recording artist Terrence Howard. For the past ten years, Okura has also been a member of a Jewish/Middle Eastern band “Pharaoh’s Daughter” led by ex-orthodox singer-songwriter and cantor Basya Schechter.
“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