“Ima, you don’t look Jewish,” a three-year-old girl said to her mother. “That’s because I wasn’t born Jewish. I had to work for it.”
On Mother’s Day, Meg Okura, who converted to Judaism four years ago, will release Ima Ima, featuring trumpeter Tom Harrell and guitarist Rez Abbasi. Ima Ima (mom in Hebrew and now in Japanese) will be her Pan Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble's fourth album, showcasing extensive works for 10-piece chamber jazz ensemble, spanning four years. This album is a musical platform for exploring her new Jewish faith, her Japanese heritage, her passion for jazz, and love for family. Her grandmother, to whom this album is dedicated, had passed away during the production.
The album explores a wide range of timbres with Riza Printup on harp, Sam Newsome on soprano sax, Anne Drummond on flutes, Sam Sadigursky on bass clarinet, Brian Marsella on piano, Pablo Aslan on bass, and Jared Schonig on drums. Okura who has been successfully blending the sounds of East and West since the 2006 debut album, first became intrigued with the idea of forming a large chamber jazz ensemble after touring with the Michael Brecker Quindectet and again with Emilio Solla y la Inestable de Brooklyn, for which she was nominated for a Grammy.
And it has proven to be a worthwhile endeavor. She has since received numerous accolades including the New Music USA Project Grant and American Composer’s Forum’s J-Fund, and more to be announced in a few weeks! Elliot Simon from The New York City Jazz Record wrote: “Meg Okura and The PACJE have no peer in melding classical and jazz within an ethnically informed chamber setting.”
So sit back and listen, while Okura and her multi-cultural orchestra take you from the East to the West and back again with their haunting melodies, exotic rhythms, and riveting performance.
Meg Okura & The Pan Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble will celebrate the release of IMA IMA on August 20, 2018 at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola.
"In Ima Ima Meg taps into the soulful musicality of motherhood - leaps and surprises and then the soothing coo of love. Her grooves and mixes of influences create an incredible journey of the senses with her neshama - the soul."