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Miles Okazaki – Thisness

Thisness is an album by composer, producer, and guitarist Miles Okazaki. The musician gathered for this album is the usual Trickster band with pianist Matt Mitchell, bassist Anthony Tidd, and drummer Sean Rickman. Thisness was recorded on March 19 and 20, 2021, at Oktaven Studios, Mount Vernon, NY, and was released on April 25, 2022, by Pi Recordings.

Miles Okazaki - Thisness

Miles Okazaki

(Pi Recordings)

If you read the liner notes by Robin D.G. Kelley you quickly get the foundation of the music you are about to listen to: “This is Surrealism.”

The band has been writing the music of Thisness based on a surrealist concept to produce a piece of art: the “exquisite corpse” [Wikipedia]. Yet, they avoid the part praising total unawareness of the current whole by each member during the process of creation. It leads to music as spontaneous as it is unpredictable, however not falling into art for itself, bypassing absurdity or pure eccentricity.

Of course jazz, as a music, could easily be linked to surrealism. It contains by definition improvisations which is a key component of both expressions. Nevertheless, Thisness is stepping further into this cultural movement. The music is clearly similar to what you could get with surrealism literature: the construction, apparently unstructured, could be made up of phantasmagorical parts, stories of dreams, and narrative ruptures mixed with other art forms–which is exactly what Thisness offers so admirably. As Kelley writes, it has “convulsive beauty, propulsive rhythm, elusive meaning.”

Even the way the tracks were named is surrealist. Miles Okazaki explained: “After mixing and mastering, I was trying to come up with titles. I thought of strange journeys to distant lands, and of Sun Ra, one of the greatest Surrealists of them all. I called Matt Mitchell to bounce some ideas around, and he gave me a copy of Monorails and Satellites. While looking at the liner notes I saw the poem called “The Far Off Place,” and got my answer. The song titles on this album are lines from that poem.”

The Far Off Place

In some far off place, years in space, I’ll build a world and wait for you.

Sun Ra

The cherry on the cake comes with the album’s title, aiming at defining and appreciating this very music in its uniqueness, as Magritte’s “The Treachery of Images” played with, and NOT either through a blog post. So just quit reading and dig thisness as it deserves:

Thisness – Info

1. In some far off place (9:27); 2. years in space (10:04); 3. i’ll build a world (10:00); 4. and wait for you (9:34)

Miles Okazaki Thisness Group

Miles Okazaki: guitar, vocals, robots; Matt Mitchell: piano, Fender Rhodes, Prophet-6; Anthony Tidd: electric bass; Sean Rickman: drums

Thisness was released on April 29, 2022 // Pi Recordings PI93 // Part of the April 2022 selection.

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