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The Kennedy Center

The Pan Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble



Biography

Led by a Tokyo-native jazz violinist Meg Okura, the Pan Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble is a unique brand of Asian-influenced jazz group based in New York City. As a composer, Okura is the latest winner of the Chamber Music America’s New Jazz Works Grant (funded by Doris Duke Foundation), and The New York Times described her music as of "grandiloquent beauty that transitions easily from grooves to big cascades to buoyant swing."

The Pan Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble's fourth and the latest album IMA IMA (featuring Tom Harrell) has been chosen on several critics' "Best Albums of 2018" lists including Dan Bilawsky’s All About Jazz and placed No. 4 Best Jazz Album on Textura.com. The album release show at New York’s Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center was the New York Times Editor’s Pick.

Since the founding in 2006, the Pan Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble has performed nationally and internationally at festivals and venues including Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola at Jazz At Lincoln Center, Blue Note New York, Knitting Factory, Levitt Pavilion (CA), NYC Winter Jazzfest, KL International Jazz Festival (Malaysia), and sold-out concerts in Japan.

Meg Okura grew up in Ome, Tokyo, where she was a local church organist and pianist by the age of eight while receiving intensive musical training at Toho Gakuen. As a violinist, she was the youngest winner of the Tokyo Young Musician’s Debut Audition, and by seventeen, Okura had won the concertmaster chair in the Asian Youth Orchestra, touring all of Asia. Okura moved to New York after making her solo debut at Kennedy Center at 19. She studied at the Juilliard School as a classical violinist, only to switch to jazz upon graduation.

Since then, she has toured internationally with Michael Brecker Quindectet, Tom Harrell Chamber Ensemble, and has performed and recorded with several dozen artists including David Bowie, Diane Reeves, Lee Konitz, Steve Swallow, Sam Newsome. She has appeared on several dozens of albums and soundtracks as a violinist and erhu (two-stringed traditional Chinese violin) player.

The ensemble’s self-titled debut album “Meg Okura’s Pan Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble” was one of the “2006 Best Albums” of the Independent Music Awards. The Pan Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble has since released Naima (2010), Music of Ryuichi Sakamoto (2013), and Ima Ima (2018) to critical acclaim.

Watch Past Performances

Video 8/12/2019: Meg Okura & The Pan Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble

Described by the New York Times as the music of “grandiloquent beauty that transitions easily from grooves to big cascades to buoyant swing,” New York–based violinist and composer Meg Okura brings a unique brand of Asian-influenced chamber jazz to Millennium Stage.

"Jewburish Folk Songs" by Meg Okura, and The Pan Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble has been made possible with support form Chamber Music America's 2018 New Jazz Works program funded through the generosity of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

PACJE