How Asia-Born, U.S.-Based Women Are Ushering In a New Big Band Era
by Dan Ouellette
Traditionally in the jazz world, the big band configuration has been the almost-exclusive bastion of male bandleaders (Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Wynton Marsalis) with few exceptions such as Carla Bley. But the scene is shifting as a group of Asia-born, U.S.-based women are ushering in a new era by helming large outfits. They’re composing and arranging significant work while also enlisting scores of talented support artists, mostly in New York and Boston. They’re sprinting ahead regardless of gender and nationality boundaries.
“I was born in Tokyo and learned to play classical music on piano and electric organ,” recalls 32-year-old Harlem-based Miho Hazama. “Then I learned about orchestration by reorganizing symphonic classical music for the electric organ. By the time I was 10, I had a dream to be a composer.” She is now living that dream along with other women including Migiwa Miyajima, Meg Okura and Jihye Lee…
Image courtesy of Billboard/Masa Tsujimura