Reviews

  • Jazz Right Now: REVIEW: MIYA MASAOKA, ZEENA PARKINS, AND MYRA MELFORD – MZM

    by, Paige Johnson-Brown, JazzRightNow.com Feb 20, 2018 In tarot, The Three of Cups is often pictured as three women raising their glasses in celebration and signifies forces coming together to focus on a common emotional or creative goal. I pulled this card during a tarot reading that happened to coincide with the final moments of… More »

  • The New York City Jazz Record: MZM

    by Mark Keresman, The New York City Jazz Record November 2017 There are few high-wire acts as challenging and precarious as collective free improvisation. The results can dazzle, delightfully confound or seem like the by-product of musicians playing near each other. Myra Melford is a dynamic and flexible pianist, an acolyte of the late Don… More »

  • Dusted: Myra Melford, Zeena Parkins, Miya Masaoka – MZM (Infrequent Seams)

    by Eric McDowell, Dusted Magazine September 21, 2017 Context matters: The difference between coming to MZM expecting music for piano, harp and koto and coming to it expecting music by Myra Melford, Zeena Parkins and Miya Masaoka may be the difference between loving and hating the album. Of course, Melford, Parkins and Masaoka are three… More »

  • Downbeat: Improv Explorer

    by Ted Panken, Downbeat Magazine July 2017 Four years ago, saxophonist Anthony Braxton suggested to koto player Miya Masaoka that they improvise a concert together at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. Engaging with Braxton is not an undertaking for the faint of heart, but Masaoka didn’t hesitate. “A recording date got set up and it… More »

  • SF Classical Voice: Sound and Silence: Miya Masaoka Evokes a World of Emotions

    by Lucy Caplan, San Francisco Classical Voice May 12, 2017 Miya Masaoka is not afraid of silence. In her opera A Line Becomes A Circle, presented at Roulette on Wednesday evening, the absence of sound is often as musically significant as its presence. The piece begins with four musicians processing quietly through the audience, making barely audible… More »

  • Pitchfork: Duo (DCWM) 2013

    by, Seth Colter Walls January 10, 2017 Saxophonist Anthony Braxton’s collaboration with koto player Miya Masaoka is simultaneously dramatic and dreamy, swinging between free improv and ambient passages. The composer and instrumentalist Miya Masaoka was already well-versed in experimental practices when she showed up for a 2013 gig with saxophonist Anthony Braxton. As a specialist on the koto,… More »

  • Jazz Weekly: INTRIGUING ENSEMBLES…Miya Masaoka: Triangle of Resistance, Matt Ulery’s Loom/Large: Festival

    by George W. Harris, Jazz Weekly November 10, 2016 Music groups come in all sizes these days, sometimes even changing midstream on an album. Here are a couple examples. Miya Masaoka plays the traditional koto instrument as she leads a flexible ensemble through three originals. Richard Carrick conducts 2 violins, a viola, cello, synthesizer and… More »

  • Wall Street Journal: “‘Overtones — Harmonic Seasons’ and ‘Triangle of Resistance’”

    by Allan Kozinn, Wall Street Journal September 13, 2016 Albums from Wu Wei and Miya Masaoka meld disparate accents by combining the instrumentation and musical forms of both worlds. Over the past few decades, Asian composers with Asian roots, have melded Eastern and Western musical accents by combining the instrumentation and musical forms of both… More »

  • Herald-Tribune: Miya Masaoka finds new sounds in ancient instrument

    by Susan Rife, Herald-Tribune November 6, 2015 The Japanese koto is a traditional stringed instrument that, in the words of new-music composer Miya Masaoka, is “basically a hollow log with strings across it.” But from this very traditional instrument, which has its roots in China and is cousin to similar zither-style instruments throughout Africa and Asia,… More »

  • Cleaveland Classical: CMA at Transformer Station — Miya Masaoka

    by Mike Telin, CleavelandClassical.com February 21, 2014 Before the advent of electronic tuning devices there were tuning forks and musicians usually carried at least one in their instrument cases to use to set a pitch standard. Tuning forks also provide entertainment for people of all ages who want to experiment with sound vibrations: strike the… More »

  • The Wire: The Reach of Resonance

    by Dan Warburton, The Wire The Reach of Resonance Steve Elkins (Director) Candela Films 2010, 118 mins Focusing its attention on four mavericks of New Music – Miya Masaoka, John Luther Adams, Jon Rose and Bob Ostertag – this entertaining and thought-provoking debut from Steve Elkins sets out to find music in the unlikeliest of… More »

  • SF Asian Music Examiner: Koto and electronics featured at the Garden of Memory, Oakland.

    Johnathon Bakan, SF Asian Music Examiner June 23, 2011 The concert took place at the Chapel of the Chimes a large Gothic columbarium nestled at the end of Piedmont St. in Oakland, CA. The concert called “Garden of Memory” was a summer solstice celebration concert that featured the best avant-garde, progressive, electro-acoustic, and new music… More »

  • Ecouterre: LED Kimono Reacts to Music, Motion to Create Interactive Light Show

    by Jasmin Malik Chua Dec 3, 2009 The past and future collide with composer Miya Masaoka’s LED Kimono, a high-tech garment that cuts a time-honored silhouette. But the kimono, which has 444 individually controlled LEDs embroidered along the voluminous length of one sleeve, isn’t just a flashy fashion statement—it’s also an interactive light-and-sound instrument that… More »

  • The Wire: For Birds, Planes and Cello

    by Brian Morton, The Wire August 2008 Messiaen talked about the”sovereign freedom” of birdsong. Through the open window to my right I can hear the calls and songs of a white throat, a willow warbler, more distantly nesting sandpipers, and a solitary depressed buzzard, all working together in an extraordinary (if presumably accidental) counterpoint. I… More »

  • The New York Sun: Classical Creature

    By Alan Lockwood, The New York Sun January 10, 2008 Miya Masaoka may work in classical composition, but her tools are anything but classical. Bees, plants, cockroaches — these are the tricks of Ms. Masaoka’s trade. The composer and koto player has worked for two decades at expanding compositional and performance parameters, embracing jazz improvisation,… More »

  • Los Angeles Times: “Koto tradition melds with high-tech mode”

    by Josef Woodard, Los Angeles Times January 27, 2007 Masterful and conceptually restless koto player Miya Masaoka has made it her business to usher the Japanese instrument into contemporary contexts, combining respect for tradition with new musical applications. At REDCAT on Thursday in the first of three varied evenings in the CEAIT Festival — for the… More »

  • Pierrou.Free.fr: “Miya Masaoka – Sylvie Courvoisier – Peggy Lee – Trio”

    by Josef Woodard, Pierrou.Free.fr January 27, 2007 Au rayon improvisation libre, un trio forcément fortement original composé de Miya Masoaka au koto, Sylvie Courvoisier au piano, et Peggy Lee (pas la chanteuse, une autre) au violoncelle. L’ensemble est invraisemblablement virtuose et maîtrisé, le mélange de timbres est tout à fait réussi, ce qui n’avait rien d’évident… More »

  • Wired: “Musician Plucks Sound From Lasers”

    by Alexander Gelfand, Wired November 20, 2006 Lasers are nifty things. Since their invention at Bell Labs in 1958, they’ve been used to perform eye surgery, target smart bombs and carry zillions of bytes of data along fiber-optic cables. Nonetheless, it took decades for someone to figure out that these highly focused beams of light could… More »

  • The Wire: Cross Platform

    by Rob Young, The Wire February 2006 Rare are the moments when TV’s I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here and experimental music find themselves on the same page. But Miya Masaoka’s multimedia performance piece Ritual With Giant Hissing Madagascar Cockroaches (1996) provides just such a moment: In the late 90s, the San Francisco… More »

  • San Diego Union-Tribune: For Birds, Planes & Cello

    by George Varga, San Diego Union-Tribune 2005 Call it pure coincidence or a happy case of musical serendipity. Either way, two of this month’s most arresting new albums feature the cello, although the manner in which it is used on Miya Masaoka and Joan Jeanrenaud’s “For Birds, Planes & Cello” is dramatically different that on… More »

  • Sound Noise Music Network: For Birds, Planes and Cello

    by Stephen Fruitman, Sound Noise Music Network Nov 7, 2005 You would have to look long and hard to find a CD whose contents are more accurately and honestly described by its title. For this is indeed a recording consisting of birds, planes and cello. On March 15, 2004, in the company of recording engineer… More »

  • Jazz Fest: Miya Masaoka

    by Alexander Varty June 30th, 2005 Unconventional instrumental techniques noted at the Saturday performance by koto player Miya Masaoka, trombonist George Lewis, cellist Peggy Lee, and flautist Nicole Williams: suction-cup trombone, in which Lewis plunged the mouthpiece of his horn against his face to produce various intestinal gurglings; Mitchell’s application of a house- painter’s brush to the strings and soundboard… More »

  • Le Figaro: DANSE Pour la première fois en France Alonzo, le

    by René Sirvin, Le Figaro December 3, 2004 Fidèle à sa politique d’ouverture, Guy Darmet présente dans sa Maison de la danse à Lyon un chorégraphe noir américain encore inconnu en France, Alonzo King, dont les oeuvres sont pourtant au répertoire d’une cinquantaine de compagnies à l’étranger. Après des études classiques à American Ballet School,… More »

  • Album Review: While I was walking I heard a sound…

    by Margaret Leng Tan, New York City May 22nd, 2004 The world would be a poorer place if When I was Walking I Heard a Sound had not been created. At the very least, my own life would be that much poorer if I had not discovered this amazing work by Miya Masaoka. I was… More »

  • Downbeat: “caught: Guelph Gains Momentum”

    by Greg Buium, Downbeat Volume 70 – Number I January 2003 Guelph can safely be put up alongside Tampere, Nickelsdorf or Victoriaville as one of the world’s small, out-of-the-way creative music metropolises. This year’s Guelph Jazz Festival, Sept. 4–8, again proved that its smart, progressive programming has few peers. Its menu commonly sets off rich helpings of… More »

  • Cadence: “Observations: Guelph Jazz Festival, Sept. 4–8, 2002”

    by Frank Rubolino, Cadence October 2002 For the ninth exciting year, the Guelph Jazz Festival presented an outstanding array of artists in action at this viewer-friendly late summer event. Drawing talent from the international community, this year’s festival compressed an abundance of music, visual art, dance, panel discussions, workshops, theater, film, and lectures into a highly… More »

  • Electronic Musician: “Electric Ladyland”

    by Bean with Gino Robair, Electronic Musician  April 1, 2001 Artists who customize or build instruments to realize their singular artistic visions often make the most exciting music. Three female performers who take that route — Krystyna Bobrowski, Miya Masaoka, and Kaffe Matthews — make groundbreaking music that transcends gender and conventional musical expectations. Composer and… More »

  • SF Weekly: “Border Crossings”

    by Sam Prestianni, SF Weekly July 26, 2000 Using everything from kotos to cockroaches, synthesizers to strippers, Miya Masaoka is redefining the musician’s creative process. To take advantage of her artist-in-residence tenure this past spring at the Headlands Center for the Arts, San Francisco kotoist Miya Masaoka had to haul her weird wired world to the… More »

  • Metro Active: Challenging the Koto-Monster

    by Marianne Messina, Metro Active July 2000 Tradition meets the cutting edge when Miya Masaoka manipulates her koto. ALTHOUGH MIYA MASAOKA plays the Japanese koto, an instrument wrapped in more than 1,000 years of tradition, there isn’t much that’s traditional about her. Masaoka has taken her “note-bending zither,” her refined technique, her Gagaku (formal court… More »

  • San Francisco Classical Voice: Electronic Music, A Blast, A Vision

    by Thomas Gross May 5, 2000 Give some people an amp, and they can’t wait to see just how loud it can go. Leather-jacketed juvenile delinquents who preen at heavy metal concerts have no idea of the true limits of auditory toughness. When they walk into a rock concert, the blast from the immense speakers… More »

  • New York Press: “The Queen of the Bees”

    by Sam Prestianni, The New York Press March 4, 1998 She’s jammed with a few thousand bees and let giant cockroaches cross her naked flesh. She’s played with strippers on the street for lunchtime passersby and rocked the conservative Monterey Jazz Festival with bracing noise experiments. A forward-thinking composer-improviser with world-class skills and vision, Bay Area… More »

  • San Francisco Bay Guardian: “Miya Masaoka Trio: Monk’s Japanese Folk Song (Dizim)”

    by Derk Richardson, San Francisco Bay Guardian January 28, 1998 THE NOVELTY of hearing Thelonious Monk’s “Epistrophy” or “‘Round Midnight” performed on a Japanese koto quickly dissolves into wonderment in the early moments of Miya Masaoka’s new CD — and into unconditional acceptance of the 21-string zither as a jazz instrument. Since releasing her 1993 debut… More »