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.
Miho was born in Hino City, Tokyo and grew up by the sea in Miyazaki and later in Christchurch, New Zealand. She studied flute with Anthony Ferner at the University of Canterbury and after completing her Bachelor of Music degree, 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. 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 in 2008 and she flew to Havana to study 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 in London and toured around the world with Ska Cubano, including main-stage performances at WOMAD festivals and Tanja Latina festival (Morocco). 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 the official SXSW showcase in Austin, Texas. In October 2011 she formed Miho’s Jazz Orchestra (MJO), purposefully combining established musicians from a variety of different genres. Their inaugural performance celebrated the release of their first instrumental jazz EP “Para Tí (for you)” and the publication of her score book “PLAY M!HO”.
Miho’s Jazz Orchestra is now been described as one of the most entertaining jazz acts in New Zealand, performing sold out shows at jazz festivals and concert series around the country, as well as touring extensively in Japan and head-ling jazz festivals in Australia. Miho and MJO have also celebrated the success of their recent albums “EXIT 621″ (2013) and “Mystery Banana” (2014). They were both charted within the top #20 on the official NZ Album Chart for several weeks. In mid 2014 Miho travelled to the U.S.A. to study Traditional Jazz in New Orleans and she performed at the historic Preservation Hall as part of a course. She also recorded at the legendary Sun Studio in Memphis with some of the finest studio musicians there, including Dave Roe, who was a bassist for the late Johnny Cash.