MEG OKURA | KEVIN HAYS
jazz violin & piano duo
"Okura's classical virtuosity combines jazz, Jewish and Japanese cultures into a distinctive transcendental musical identity."
- Elliott Simon, New York City Jazz Record
As ambassadors of jazz, the Meg Okura | Kevin Hays Jazz Violin & Piano Duo invites you to join them on a transformative musical journey to witness the power of jazz to connect, inspire, and uplift the human spirit.
Meg, hailed as the "queen of chamber jazz" by All About Jazz, seamlessly blends the elegance of classical chamber music with the rhythmic vitality, soulful expression, and complexity of jazz through her original compositions. Meg's founding of the groundbreaking Pan Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble has broken new ground in bridging cultural boundaries and promoting diversity in music.
With an illustrious career spanning works with jazz luminaries such as Brad Mehldau, Chris Potter, Joshua Redman, Nicholas Payton, Al Foster, Sonny Rollins, John Scofield, Joe Henderson, Roy Haynes, as well as singer-songwriter James Taylor, Kevin Hays brings modern jazz language and soulfulness deeply rooted in jazz traditions and vast imaginations to the musical landscapes created by Meg, creating harmonious dialogues and spontaneous moments of magic.
A Tokyo native, Meg Okura is a Grammy-nominated violinist and award-winning composer based in New York. Formerly a concert violinist, she moved to New York after making her U.S. debut at Kennedy Center as a teen. She earned B.M. and M.M. degrees in Violin Performance from the Juilliard School.
Ms. Okura is the 2023 winner of the ISJAC (International Society of Jazz Arrangers and Composers) Fundamental Freedom Commission Award, the 2022 BRIO Awards, 2021 Jazz Road Creative Residencies, 2020 Copland House Residency Awards, and 2018 Chamber Music America New Jazz Works, and many others grants and awards.
As a violinist, she has appeared at Carnegie Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Barbican Hall in the U.K., Madison Square Garden, Village Vanguard, Blue Note Tokyo, Hollywood Bowl, and numerous festivals worldwide with many jazz greats such as Lee Konitz, Michael Brecker, Tom Harrel, Steve Swallow, Sam Newsome, Diane Reeves, as well as David Bowie, Cirque du Soleil, Emilio Solla, and many others.
Dubbed "the queen of chamber jazz" by All About Jazz, Ms. Okura founded the Pan Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble in 2006. The PACJE has released four albums, and one is in the works.
Her new big band work will be premiered by the Orchestre National de Jazz de Montréal in May of 2024 at the ISJAC International Symposium.
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.
In addition to his celebrated work as pianist and composer, Kevin has become increasingly known as a gifted and expressive singer/songwriter. In 2015 he released the widely lauded recording New Day (Sunnyside), on which he performed his own songs along with a riveting performance of the Jimmy Webb classic ‘Highwayman’.
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.
"It's not exclusive but inclusive.
That is the spirit of jazz."
- Herbie Hancock
A CHAMBER JAZZ CONCERT
A 75-90 minute concert
Two 45-minute sets
COMMUNITY OUTREACH & FAMILY CONCERTS (30 min. - 60 min.)
Jazz standards from Duke Ellington to Wayne Shorter
A chamber jazz version of Paganini and beyond
Creating a new piece using your ideas
Original works by Okura and Hays
MASTERCLASSES - collegiate & advanced
Jazz combo coaching
Jazz Improvisation masterclass
Introduction to Improvisation for classical majors
Writing for strings in jazz settings
based on your communities’ interests and needs, including
pre-concert Q & A
interviews and panels
nusach & worship services
new works commission