Miho Hazama
Journey to Journey
SSC1344
2013-03-26
 Journey to Journey by Miho Hazama cover

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Track List: listen

Mr. O - 7:56
Tokyo Confidential - 8:14
Blue Forest - 7:59
Journey to Journey - 8:13
Paparazzi - 5:53
Believing in Myself - 6:41
Ballad - 1:41
What Will You See When You Turn the Next Corner - 9:41
Hidamari - 9:30

 

Musicians:
Miho Hazama - piano
Cam Collins - alto saxophone, clarinet
Andrew Gutauskas - baritone saxophone, bass clarinet
Philip Dizack - trumpet, flugelhorn
Bert Hill - french horn
Mark Feldman - violin
Joyce Hammann - violin
Lois Martin - viola
Meaghan Burke - cello
James Shipp - vibraphone
Sam Harris - piano
Sam Anning - acoustic bass
Jake Goldbas - drums
Chris Reza - conductor
Miho Hazama - conductor
StephonHarris - vibraphone
Steve Wilson - alto saxophone

This album has been recorded in July in New York, commemorating her graduation from the master course at Manhattan School of Music. Except for one cover tune of Lady Gaga, all other songs are Miho's original compositions, and the album features her talent as a jazz composer. Leading her own 13-piece orchestra named “m_unit”, she has for guests Steve Wilson (as) and Stefon Harris (vib), some of the most active musicians in jazz scene in the United States. Her sound is vivid and lively.

Reviews:

Miho Hazama starts a journey
BY SEAN SMITH
SPECIAL TO THE JAPAN TIMES
JAN 23, 2013
It’s believed that time spent living abroad can be a journey of self-discovery, and for Miho Hazama that has certainly been the case. Moving to New York to study for a master’s degree in jazz composition at the Manhattan School of Music (MSM) was an experience that led to the recording of her debut, “Journey to Journey” — a refreshingly original album of orchestral jazz, that stood out as one of the most notable releases in Japan last autumn.

Speaking of her time in New York, Hazama says “It was definitely a great experience in terms of finding myself in a lot of ways. Not only as a composer, but also as a person from a classical music background, as a Japanese woman, and so on.

“Before I studied abroad, I was struggling to find my own voice, something that truly said, ‘This is me,’ ” she continues. “But after I started my MSM life, a lot of friends and teachers told me that my compositions were unique and interesting, and they encouraged me to keep going. Eventually, I got to the point where I decided that I wanted my music to be heard by a wider audience.”

“When I was a freshman, I just happened to catch a concert by the college big band. To be honest, before that day I wasn’t even aware that the college had a big band,” she recalls. “Anyway, I thought they sounded really cool and that I might be able to experience something exciting in the band. So, I started playing piano with them, and through that I got to know the music of Maria Schneider, Vince Mendoza, Jim McNeely and Mike Holober — all of whom have become big musical influences for me. From that point on, I became more and more interested in jazz composition.”

Hazama, who sees herself principally as a composer and arranger, doesn’t see this shift of musical attention as a massive change. “To be honest I don’t really like categorizing music,” she says, “and these days it’s not uncommon to see jazz artists incorporating elements of R&B or contemporary classical music in their music. Personally, the composition process is pretty much the same for me regardless of the style — I just need some kind of concept, plan or structure in my mind before I start writing.”

With orchestral arrangements using both strings and horns present throughout the album, it’s clear that Hazama’s earlier studies have had some influence on this recording. “Since I used to study classical music, I love writing for symphony orchestras,” she explains. “I couldn’t help but hear strings in my mind when I was composing these tunes, so I ended up choosing this kind of instrumentation. I would like to keep working on this instrumentation for a while, and I hope to get more chances to work with orchestras.”

There is also a lot of New York in the album, too, with plenty of swinging contemporary original compositions, as well as a bold new arrangement of Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi.” For Hazama, it seems that her experience in New York has been an important one musically.

“I feel that people are very interested in listening to music in general in New York, and it’s also one of the most important cities in the history of jazz,” she says. “So many people enjoy jazz music every night there, which made me feel like jazz exists more naturally in the United States.”

“Sadly, in Japan, I feel like jazz is sometimes viewed as being elitist or high-brow. Either that or it’s seen as a bit too bohemian. In New York, however, the scene is open to both devoted fans of the genre and visitors.”

The notion of self-discovery is a strong theme on the album, too, with track titles such as “Believing in Myself” and “What Will You See When You Turn The Next Corner?” in addition to the title track.

” ‘Journey to Journey’ is pretty much an album that allows me to introduce myself,” says Hazama. “I was very honored to have been able to work with such great musicians, directors and engineers. As a composer and arranger, I feel that the players had such a vital role, as they are the ones who brought the music I imagined to life.”

From recording in New York to a critically acclaimed album release in Japan, Hazama’s journey as a recording artist has started strong. With a North American and European release penciled in for this spring, it looks as though the immediate future will bring further exciting installments in her musical odyssey. Very nice review for Miho Hazama's "Journey to Journey" in the July 2013 issue of DownBeat.

James Hale, DOWNBEAT - July 2013     Read the full article

Nice review of Miho Hazama's "Journey to Journey" in the May 2013 issue of Jazz Magazine (France)!

Ludovic Florin, Jazz Magazine - July 2013     Read the full article

 

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