When I saw that the program of the 6th evening in this season of the Hot Jazz series at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art included violinist Meg Okura I knew that it would be an interesting evening. I did not know that at some moments it will touch magic.

(video source mcarikn)

I love jazz violin and the biography of Meg Okura offers a lot of hints that she makes interesting music. She is born in Japan in 1973 and lives in New York City. She leads the Pan Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble and plays besides violin a traditional Japanese instrument named erhu – some details about it can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ehru. She graduated the Julliard school and was a featured violinist with Cirque du Soleil. She has a two and a half months daughter. This is her first visit in Israel and the concert last night was open by a version of Mussorgski’s Paintings in an Exhibition – the same piece as in the youTube version above.

(video source mcarikn)

Here she is with another classical piece – a Nocturne by Chopin. The combination between classical music and jazz brought her together with Israeli pianist Eric Niceberg with whom she works for a number of years. While the first part of the concert featured famous classical tunes in jazz arrangements, the second one took jazz standards by artists like Oscar Peterson and Chick Corea and packed them in classical arrangements for violin followed by the jazz interpretation of the band. Niceberg is a gifted pianist, his sound fills the air and envelops the listener in a romantic mood. Avri Borochov had some fine moments at bass, with unexpected sparkles of humor. Aviv Cohen at drums – a little boring to my taste – completed the band. The star of the night was however without any doubt Meg Okura, with moments of passion and deep feeling that raised towards the peaks. There was only one Japanese piece (dedicated to the memory of the victims of the earthquake and tsunami) whose title translates if I got it right Night over the Castle and this was maybe the best moment in an evening of jazz which left nobody in the audience indifferent.