Reviews that mention Miya Masaoka

May 3, 2017

Miya Masaoka

Triangle of Resistance
Innova Recordings 945.

By Ken Waxman

As much a personal as a musical challenge for kotoist/composer Miya Masaoka, the major portion of this CD is taken up by a suite interpreting the experiences of Masaoka’s mother, who at 13, along with most other Japanese Americans, was interned in detention camps for the duration of World War Two. Distinctive in this time of self-referential activities, Triangle of Resistance is also notable since the composer’s own contributions are sparse, leaving most of the heavy lifting to the other players. Additionally despite the use of some Oriental instruments the intention of the suite is innovation, not exotica. MORE

July 6, 2015

Artist Feature

Miya Masaoka
By Ken Waxman

As perhaps the pre-eminent innovator on the multi-string koto, Miya Masaoka is fully committed to the present and future via her compositions, performances and improvisations. But at the same time she stays in touch with her roots, often performing in traditional gagaku or court music ensembles, and took time during a recent Japanese trip to visit a shrine associated with members of the extended Masaoka family who have been priests and Shinto singers at that location since the 15th Century. Next year as well she’ll be the recipient of a Fulbright grant that will allow her to live in Japan for three months at a time, studying koto, gagaku and Noh theatre. “I hope to write a new work or series of works based on the research there,” she says. MORE

September 21, 2014

East-West Collective

Humeurs
RogueArt ROG-0054

Effectively disproving the turn of phrase while melding that twain that’s not supposed to meet, The East-West Collective produces an effective program of improvised music here. Humeurs calls on variants of both Occidental and Oriental musical traditions without pledging allegiance to either.

More significantly, since to distort another cliché: one person’s exotica is another person’s daily sound, the CD’s key is that neither the textures from the instruments in the western tradition: cello, saxophone and clarinet; nor those from the eastern side: koto and guzheng; are accepted as usually played. Each of the musicians adopts his or her instrument’s timbres in unexpected and complementary manners. MORE

October 7, 2012

Festival Report

The Guelph Jazz Festival
By Ken Waxman

A spectre was haunting the 2012 Guelph Jazz Festival (GJF), but it was a benign spectre: the ghost of John Coltrane. The influence of Coltrane, who died in 1967, was honored in direct and indirect ways throughout the five days of the festival which takes places annually in this mid-sized college town, 100 kilometres west of Toronto.

This year’s edition (September 5 to 9), featured two live performances of Ascension, Coltrane’s free jazz masterwork from 1965, one with the original instrumentation by an 11-piece Toronto ensemble at the local arts centre; the other on the main stage of the soft-seated River Run Centre concert hall featured the Bay-area ROVA saxophone’s quartet reimaging of the work, scored for 12 musicians adding strings and electronics to the basic ensemble. MORE

April 4, 2009

Alex Cline

Continuation
Cryptogramophone CG 140

Larry Ochs/Miya Masoka/Peggy Lee

Spiller Alley

RogueArt ROG-0016

Tony Wilson/Peggy Lee/Jon Bentley

Escondido Dreams

Drip Audio DA00206

Peggy Lee

New Code

Drip Audio DA 00318

Extended Play: The “Other” Peggy Lee

By Ken Waxman

Established in Vancouver for nearly 20 years following extensive musical study in her native Toronto, Peggy Lee has become one of the most in-demand cellists in both improvised and New music. Occasionally working with her husband, drummer Dylan van der Schyff, but more frequently on her own, Lee’s string prestidigitation is prominent in meetings with Canadian, American and European musicians. MORE

April 4, 2009

Peggy Lee

New Code
Drip Audio DA 00318

Larry Ochs/Miya Masoka/Peggy Lee

Spiller Alley

RogueArt ROG-0016

Tony Wilson/Peggy Lee/Jon Bentley

Escondido Dreams

Drip Audio DA00206

Alex Cline

Continuation

Cryptogramophone CG 140

Extended Play: The “Other” Peggy Lee

By Ken Waxman

Established in Vancouver for nearly 20 years following extensive musical study in her native Toronto, Peggy Lee has become one of the most in-demand cellists in both improvised and New music. Occasionally working with her husband, drummer Dylan van der Schyff, but more frequently on her own, Lee’s string prestidigitation is prominent in meetings with Canadian, American and European musicians. MORE

April 4, 2009

Larry Ochs/Miya Masoka/Peggy Lee

Spiller Alley
RogueArt ROG-0016

Tony Wilson/Peggy Lee/Jon Bentley

Escondido Dreams

Drip Audio DA00206

Alex Cline

Continuation

Cryptogramophone CG 140

Peggy Lee

New Code

Drip Audio DA 00318

Extended Play: The “Other” Peggy Lee

By Ken Waxman

Established in Vancouver for nearly 20 years following extensive musical study in her native Toronto, Peggy Lee has become one of the most in-demand cellists in both improvised and New music. Occasionally working with her husband, drummer Dylan van der Schyff, but more frequently on her own, Lee’s string prestidigitation is prominent in meetings with Canadian, American and European musicians. MORE

April 4, 2009

Tony Wilson/Peggy Lee/Jon Bentley

Escondido Dreams
Drip Audio DA00206

Larry Ochs/Miya Masoka/Peggy Lee

Spiller Alley

RogueArt ROG-0016

Alex Cline

Continuation

Cryptogramophone CG 140

Peggy Lee

New Code

Drip Audio DA 00318

Extended Play: The “Other” Peggy Lee

By Ken Waxman

Established in Vancouver for nearly 20 years following extensive musical study in her native Toronto, Peggy Lee has become one of the most in-demand cellists in both improvised and New music. Occasionally working with her husband, drummer Dylan van der Schyff, but more frequently on her own, Lee’s string prestidigitation is prominent in meetings with Canadian, American and European musicians. MORE

September 13, 2008

Maybe Monday

Unsquare
Intakt CD 132

Expanding the long-running Maybe Monday (MM) trio to seven musicians – most of whom manipulate electronics as well as acoustic instruments – adds an additional layer of polyphony to the proceedings, creating distinct and unique dimensions. Still, the five instant compositions here are only memorably realized because the septet members are canny enough to place waveform pulsation into an already established context.

Anchor for these tracks is the initial trio, which has been together since 1997. Voltage expression was organically introduced to MM before this CD, due to the electric guitar adaptations from Fred Frith plus the electronics linked to Miya Masaoka’s 25-string koto. Although sopranino and tenor saxophonist Larry Ochs is the only acoustic hold-out, he has demonstrated his familiarity with electronic interface in his past orchestral works and often as a veteran member of the ROVA saxophone quartet. MORE

August 22, 2005

ALEX CLINE/KAORU/MIYA MASAOKA /G.E. STINSON

Cloud Plate
Cryptogramophone CG 121

DEREK BAILEY/AMY DENIO/DENNIS PALMER
The Gospel Record
Shaking Ray SRR-CD004

Using the human voice in improvisation can be tricky. Singing words brings with it the fear that metrical qualities will overtake spontaneous interaction; used wordlessly, its proper place among other instruments is suspect and sometimes redundant.

CLOUD PLATE and THE GOSPEL RECORD deal with variations of these snags and neither fully overcomes the obstacles. On the first CD, Kaoru – no last name – so diffuses her vocal timbres through electronics that often you lose track of the human element, especially when she seem to be expressing herself in ethereal tones that are neither Japanese nor English. Conversely, Amy Denio intones the lyrics of the gospel songs on the other session with such bright-eyed conviction, despite the instrumental mayhem behind her, that you’re not sure how much is parody and how much Pentecostal. MORE

September 13, 2004

KEVIN NORTON’S LIVING LANGUAGE

Intuitive Structures
Cadence Jazz Records CJR 1166

LARRY OCHS/JOAN JEANRENAUD/MIYA MASAOKA
FLY, FLY, FLY
Intakt CD 092

Cellos and tenor saxophones have similar timbres, which means that increasingly composers are putting together combos that use this musical blend as a starting point for improvisation.

Even though both CDs here feature that line up as well as four long compositions each, the results couldn’t be more different. That’s because New Jersey-based percussionist Kevin Norton plays up the jazz-orientation of his quartet, while Oakland, Calif.-based saxist Larry Ochs of ROVA Quartet fame, injects his cellist into a musical situation that draws on structured and cued improvisations mixed with elements of so-called New and World music. MORE

December 8, 2003

THE SEALED KNOT

Surface/Plane
Meniscus MNSCS012

PETER KOWALD/MIYA MASAOKA/GINO ROBAIR
Illuminations (Several Views)
Rastascan BRD 049

One percussionist, one musician who plays a four-string instrument and another whose equipment is strung with many multiples of strings make up both trios featured on these improv sessions. Yet despite these points of congruence, they’re as different as hot dogs and fish-and-chips, as one featured two Americans, the others two Brits.

Actually it’s the third man -- coincidentally a German -- who probably best defines the differences. ILLUMINATIONS (SEVERAL VIEWS) features the late Peter Kowald combining his bass fiddle and basso voice with Miya Masaoka’s kotos and Gino Robair’s percussion on 16 furious, roaring take-no-prisoners sound pieces. MORE

October 28, 2002

BUTCHER/MASASAOKA/ROBAIR

Guerrilla Mosaics
482 Music 482-1013

A first-time collaboration between a well-travelled British saxophonist and two Californians proves that improvisational cohesiveness and empathy are often little affected by geographic distance and instrumental suitability.

While London-based reedman John Butcher’s instruments -- soprano and tenor saxophone -- are often seen as germane to improv as freedom, the others’ choices are a bit less common. Bay area percussionist Gino Robair also works out on such unusual noisemakers as the faux dax, bowed metal, and motors -- all late 20th century inventions. Meanwhile Brooklyn-based Miya Masaoka, plays not only one of the most traditional of Japanese instruments -- the 21-string koto -- but its 21st century cousin, the laser koto, with MIDI-triggering. This allows her to often double and triple the sound she produces. MORE

July 6, 2002

FRED FRITH/MAYBE MONDAY

Digital Wildlife
Winter & Winter 910 071-2

Ozzy Osbourne to the contrary, it’s still possible to forge a creative life as a former rock musician, just as long as you maintain your proficiency and inventiveness.

British guitarist/composer Fred Frith, 52, is living proof of this. Now professor of Composition at Mills College in Oakland, Calif., he’s arguably created more interesting music in the past 15 years as a free improviser than he did in his heyday as co-founder of cult bands Henry Cow and the Art Bears. Calling on the contacts he’s developed during his time in England and North America, he now moves from writing for dance, film, theatre and musical ensembles to playing in a wide variety of contexts. He works as bassist in John Zorn’s Naked City, violinist in Lars Hollmer’s Looping Home Orchestra, and guitarist for folks as different as The Residents, Brian Eno and in his own Guitar Quartet. MORE