Danish Radio Big Band announces Miho Hazama as new Chief Conductor

The 32-year-old Japanese-American shooting star Miho Hazama will be the first female Chief conductor in the history of the Danish Radio Big Band. She takes up her appointment at the band's season opening in October.

Miho Hazama is the new chief conductor in Danish Radio's Big Band (Foto: Nicolas Koch Futtrup)

She is young. She is a woman. She is classically trained. And she is Japanese.

Miho Hazama does not look like any other bandleader in the history of the Danish Radio Big Band. But over two years, where she has conducted the band at several occasions, they have been completely convinced: Miho is exactly the right choice as the new Chief Conductor of the Danish big band, which has been led by the truly great icons of the jazz world since its conception in 1964.

One of 25 leading jazz names worldwide

Although she looks young in front of the 19 skilled jazz musicians who today make up the Danish Radio Big Band, Miho Hazama is far from inexperienced.

In fact, she is one of the hottest names on both the American and European jazz scene right now, and recently the international jazz magazine DownBeat voted her one of 25 musicians who will shape the jazz scene of the future - worldwide.

Miho Hazama has conducted leading orchestras in Europe, USA and Japan and received the prestigious Charlie Parker Jazz Composition Prize for her big band compositions. Earlier this year in The New York Times she was called "one of the boldest thinkers and most delightful jazz composers".

Historic baton passed on

Although she seems like a breath of fresh air on the conductor’s stand in front of the DR Big Band, Miho Hazama has a strong connection with the band's history. She has studied at the famous Manhattan School of Music with one of her great models: the composer and pianist Jim McNeely, who was the Danish Radio Big Band's Chief Conductor around the turn of the millennium.

And the history goes even further back: McNeely's own mentors included jazz legends Thad Jones and Bob Brookmeyer, both of whom have fronted Danish Radio Big Band and helped shape the band’s special Nordic-American sound from the 1970s onwards. In other words a strong, historical line goes from her American predecessors to the young, Japanese woman who is now taking over the post Chief Conductor of the band.

In the Danish Radio Big Band’s new concert season, the audience will have the opportunity to hear the musical connection from the band's proud history to the young new chief conductor themselves, as Miho Hazama will be directing music from the band’s historical archives composed by those famous predecessors McNeely, Jones and Brookmeyer at the concert “Jazz Gold”.

Opens season with Scofield and overseas tours

Before Miho Hazama is let loose in the Danish Radio Big Band's rich music collection in the spring, she will appear at the conductor’s podium in DR Koncerthuset twice this fall. She opens the band's season together with the American guitar legend John Scofield, and a month later Hazama presents her own concert which is a full evening of brand-new works written specifically for the musicians of the DR Big Band.

The autumn also offers two tours abroad for the Danish Radio Big Band and their new Chief Conductor. In October, they jump the gun on the season with a tour to South Korea, where Hazama and her band have been invited to perform at the big Jarasum Jazz Festival along with another important Danish-American jazz name, Percussionist Marilyn Mazur. In the same month, the band tours the Nordic countries together with Hazama and John Scofield.

Besides, many Danes will be able to enjoy the Danish Radio Big Band's new collaboration with Miho Hazama. In her first season they can be experienced together at the nationwide festival Winter Jazz – and then of course there is also the opportunity to listen when the band's concerts are broadcast on national public radio, DR.

A strong New York connection

The Danish Radio Big Band's artistic director Birger Carlsen says about the appointment of Miho Hazama as the band's new Chief Conductor:

- With Miho in the lead, the Danish Radio Big Band will have a great connection to the coolest part of New York's vibrant jazz environment. Miho will inspire both the band and Danish music life with her strong musical ideas, her colorful compositions and, not least, her contacts to the most exciting names in the new generation that break through on the international jazz scene right now. We are incredibly fortunate that we have succeeded in signing a contract with her as chief conductor, because she is already in great demand, says Birger Clausen.