Miles Okazaki

Miles Okazaki was born in Port Townsend in Washington. It is a small community near the Olympic Mountains, San Juan Islands, and Pacific Northwest. He grew up across the border from Canada. He was the son of a photographer and a painter, and he started his studies in visual arts as a child. At age 6, he began to learn the guitar and became an avid musician. He became interested in music at the age of 6. The self-taught musician graduated from Harvard University in 1997. He moved to New York to study with Rodney Jones, a guitarist who spent many years perfecting his instrument technique. Okazaki gained local attention by playing in New York City and winning the Fish-Middleton Jazz Competition. He also graduated from Manhattan School of Music and worked with Jones to produce recordings for Ernestine Anderson, Ruth Brown, Jimmy McGriff, Lena Horne, Donald Harrison, Ernestine Anderson, Ruth Brown, and Ruth Brown. Alongside Stanley Turrentine and Lenny Pickett as sidemen, Okazaki began to take up singing and playing the electric and classical guitar. Okazaki also began to re-examine his roots in visual arts and started drawing as a way to study musical forms. In Brazil, Okazaki studied rhythmic theory and fingerstyle guitar technique. He also received a second degree from Juilliard School where he studied under Kenny Barron. He also completed formal studies in Counterpoint and Bach. All of his studies were compiled into notes to create a large collection of musical compositions. Okazaki turned his attention to composition in 2005. Okazaki set out to create three albums of compositions that represented his ideas about melody, harmony, rhythm and harmony. He was a finalist in the Thelonious Monk Guitar Competition. With the prize money, he recorded Mirror, his debut album. It was released to high critical acclaim in 2007. Okazaki won a prestigious Chamber Music America “New Works” grant for his writing on the record. This grant funded Generations, his second extended work as an artist leader and was released by Sunnyside Records in Spring 2009. Okazaki finished Figurations, the third volume, during a long composer’s residency at Jazz Gallery in New York. These three albums are a culmination of 10 years’ work and comprise a complete cycle for small ensemble improvisation. Okazaki created illustrations for each of the three albums to add visual interest to the music. Okazaki performs with many other artists, including Jen Shyu and Jonathan Finlayson. Ohad Talmor and Damion Reid also performed with Okazaki. He has also toured the U.S. and Europe as part of Five Elements and Steve Coleman. A large number of private students have been taught by him, as well as the Juilliard School and Banff Institute. His grants and awards include Chamber Music America’s ‘New Works’ (2007), Chamber Music America’s ‘French-American Jazz Exchange’ (2009), Jazz Gallery and Jerome Foundations Residency Committee (2010), American Music Center’s Composer Assistance Program (2011, Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation’s US Artists International grant 2012, and Rockefeller Brother’s Fund Artist Residency 2012. Okazaki is still a traditional musician, and continues to play standards with a guitar trio. from

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