Primary Instrument: Flute
Japanese-born New Zealander Miho Wada leads her pocket-sized jazz orchestra on flute and saxophone, performing her unique style of music described in the media as Afro-Cuban flute meets J-Pop. Growing up in the seaside town of Miyazaki, Japan and later Christchurch, New Zealand, she seamlessly blends stylish contemporary jazz with her unique pan-pacific flavour.
After completing her Bachelor of Music degree in Flute Performance at the University of Canterbury, she moved to London for further study at the Trinity College of Music. She worked for the National Orchestra of Malta in Valletta for a short time before deciding to challenge her creativity and explore other musical possibilities.
Miho’s talent was spotted by Nigel Kennedy at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in London, and she later performed jazz trio concerts with him across the UK. Subsequently she started composing original material while playing jazz, latin, salsa, rock, pop, ska and other world music. During her time at the Trinity College of Music she performed around London with Noel Billingsley as Florestar flute and guitar duo. They performed at many venues including the Tate, the National Portrait Gallery, BMW headquarters, and for Gordon Ramsay’s book launch. She also worked as a session musician in London and as a touring musician across Europe.
Miho developed a strong passion for Cuban El Son music and in 2008 she studied in Havana with members of Sierra Maestra and the Buena Vista Social Club, spending a further two months in Santiago de Cuba and training under members of Kotumba and Sones de Oriente.
In 2009 Miho recorded “The Passenger” with Iggy Pop for a series of TV adverts in which she played flute and piano. The adverts later won the Grand Prix Prize at the Cannes Film Festival as well as several other international awards. She has also performed with Jarvis Cocker and toured around the world with Ska Cubano, including main-stage performances at WOMAD festivals. While touring for WOMAD she was lucky enough to be mentored by Seun Kuti on saxophone.
On her return to New Zealand in 2009 Miho started performing her original works, and the following year debuted her music internationally at SXSW in Austin, Texas. In 2011 she formed Miho’s Jazz Orchestra, purposefully combining established musicians from a variety of different genres. Their inaugural performance celebrated the release of her first instrumental jazz EP “Para Tí”.
Eccentric electric violin virtuoso Pascal Roggen regularly performs internationally and has appeared at festivals such as Glastonbury and WOMAD, as well as headlining at jazz festivals in Germany, Russia, the UK and New Zealand. He holds a Masters Degree in Jazz from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. Classically trained cellist James Donaldson has performed with many professional orchestras in both the UK and New Zealand. His warm cello sound adds richness and depth to the jazz orchestra. Folk guitarist and singer song-writer Andrew Rudolph was discovered by Miho at an open mic night and hand-picked for the shimmering colours of his guitar sound. Deliberately head-hunted by Miho from a dub band, Brazilian bass player Leo Corso is the sunniest bassist she has ever worked with. Accomplished jazz drummer Jared Desvaux de Marigny is the newest and youngest member of Miho’s Jazz Orchestra, unifying the band and providing its essential and solid foundation.
In 2012 Miho released her fourth album “Wanderland”, a full-length instrumental jazz album recorded with Miho’s Jazz Orchestra, and published her second score book PLAY M!HO Book 2. This book is widely used for her teaching work and jazz improvisation workshops and contains the original scores for all of the tunes on her latest release EXIT 621. Since the start of 2013 Miho’s Jazz Orchestra has performed sold out shows at the Nelson Jazz Festival, Waiheke International Jazz Festival and Tauranga National Jazz Festival, as well as headlining several jazz festivals in Australia, Japan and New Zealand.
By 17 dots, Notes from digital underground, USA Naming her style “Japanese Punk Jazz,” Miho finds a way to make jazz flute sound both romantic and badass. Performing and training with a diverse group of musicians like Nigel Kennedy, Buena Vista Social Club, and Iggy Pop (among others), Miho sounds to be developing a very distinctive and enjoyable voice. On this EP, she takes us through a series of tunes that displays her love of Cuban music, creating a series of tunes that have plenty of drive without blunting her light touch.
By Martyn Pepperell, Rip It Up Magazine, New Zealand, Who’s Next? “A pint-sized Sailor Moon meets Kill Bill-esque purveyor of self confessed, “happy bedroom music” and “Japanese punk jazz”, Miho Wada presents a compellingly unique proposition within New Zealand’s musical schemata.”
By Jonah Bayer, Spinner, U.S.A, Interview: SXSW 2010 Miho Wada may call her music Japanese punk-jazz, but this classically trained musician’s sound manages to encompass elements of jazz, Latin, rock, pop and virtually every other genre imaginable. Her debut album, ‘Postcards to Your Bed,’ manages to work all these seeming disparate influences into one energetic mix, which makes sense when you consider the fact that Wada has recorded alongside artists like Iggy Pop.
By Lazarus, SPINearth, USA, Lucky 12: Our Favorite Tracks by Up and Coming Bands “The tiny-yet-energetic Miho Wada, who sneers words confidently above the fray of music about “getting lost in pleasure” or “drinking vino and playing Nintendo”, creates bizarre, ska-influenced jazz punk with her international mash- up of a band.”
By Antonia Chiam, Eastern Times, Malaysia, Story of a Flute Player “Her repertoire of original songs feature music with Japanese flavors accompanied by various other instruments to create a combination of distinctive and contemporary sounds that appeal to audience worldwide.”
By Ben East, The National, Abu Dubai, Uncommon man “And Wada is a star! magnificent in a mournful 20 minute jam that breaks down for an extended handclap session and ends in blasts of white noise. So good, in fact, that I Google her later and learn she is, er, a professional flautist who has recorded with Iggy Pop.”
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Auckland, New Zealand