Masaoka, Miya – “Compositions Improvisations” – [Asian Improv Records]
Miya Masaoka was a pianist who took up the koto – a 21-string Japanese harp. The principal is jo ha kyu – prelude/breaking away/hurried. It essentially means that all actions or efforts should begin slowly, speed up, and then end swiftly. The great Noh playwright Zeami viewed it as a universal concept applying to the patterns of movement of all things. Like shakuhachi, this is meditative improvisation.
In 1993 Francis Wong was director of Asian Improv Records. He said at the time, “there has never been an Asian American exclusive form.” Hopefully we will get more from AIR, a scene that probably best correlates to AACM. Masaoka was in the process of obtaining a Master’s degree from Mills College. In her words, it was “an exciting time for the Asian American music scene. It was small, fragile, underground, and we had a mission and our bonds were strong.”
Track 7 is an Ellington tune. Track 8 features wood flute.