Miles Okazaki


musical style: 

photograph of Miles Okazaki

Miles Okazaki was born in 1974 in Pullman, Washington. As the son of a painter and photographer, his first exposure to art was visual. He began teaching himself classical guitar and learning popular songs at the age of six, developing his technique and musical ear at an early age. At this same period of time, he moved to the Pacific Northwest, to the small waterfront town of Port Townsend. The natural beauty of this environment is still his primary inspiration.

As a teenager, his musical studies led to a fascination with numbers, and he entered Harvard University in 1993 to study Mathematics. By this time, he had already won many awards and notoriety as a local jazz guitar artist in the Northwest. He began writing music at this time, and moved to Boston the next fall.

During college years, Okazaki began developing the ideas of combining and blending a variety of disciplines which is the foundation of his musical and compositional style. He studied Mathematics, Literature and became drawn back to the Visual Arts, spending most of his last year in the photography and drawing studios at Harvard’s Carpenter Center. At the same time, Okazaki was spending summers in New Orleans, working on guitar technique and repertoire.

Moving to New York after college, he entered the graduate program at Manhattan School of Music. He began to gain local attention, playing in New York and taking first place at the Fish-Middleton Jazz Competition in Washington, D.C. During this time, he studied with Garry Dial, Manny Albam, and guitarist Rodney Jones.

Working with Jones after graduation, he learned how to arrange and prepare recording sessions, and fundamentals of the music business, working with artists such as Donald Harrison, Ernestine Anderson, Ruth Brown, Jimmy McGriff, and Lena Horne. He also began to pick up sideman work, with Regina Carter, Stanley Turrentine, Lenny Pickett, Allan Harris, and others. During this time, he pursued private study of many kinds of music, most notably Brazilian guitar technique and Classical Indian rhythmic theory. His close work and continuing work with drummer Dan Weiss led to a recording of traditional Tabla compositions, Tintal Drumset Solo, » which was a major influence on Okazaki’s rhythmic development. These studies informed his ever increasing body of compositions, which he performed around New York as a bandleader.

In 2002, his daughter Izabella was born, and shortly afterward he began touring the world with jazz vocalist Jane Monheit. In 2005, he entered the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition and won 2nd place, with judges including Bill Frisell and Pat Martino. With the funds from this award, he collected his compositions together and recorded his debut album, Mirror, which was released in 2007 to critical acclaim. The writing on this record won Okazaki a prestigious « New Works » grant from Chamber Music America, a commission to produce a second volume of these works over the next year. These compositions will be presented in New York in September 2008. Read more about Miles Okazaki on User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply.

Gear used by Miles Okazaki

Miles Okazaki electric guitars

Miles Okazaki links