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 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 SXSW in Austin, Texas. She joined force with a ska-punk-rock band The Shit Fight in 2010 for her forthcoming world tour and they toured extensively during 2010 – 2011 as well as releasing 2 albums, 2 EPs and 1 single. Soon after the natural disasters of Christchurch and Japan, she started focusing on writing more instrumental compositions and in October 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 (for you)” and the score book “PLAY M!HO”, which is used widely for her teaching work and at workshops.
Since the release of her latest album “EXIT 621″ in May 2013, Miho’s Jazz Orchestra has performed sold out shows at several jazz festivals in New Zealand, as well as touring extensively in Japan and headlining jazz festivals in Australia.