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Tomoko Omura

 

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Tomoko Omura is among today's leading voices in jazz violin. “Roots”, her debut album for Inner Circle Music, is a compelling tribute to her native Japan, featuring original arrangements of ten classic Japanese folk and popular songs. In the words of fellow violinist Christian Howes, “'Roots' is a tremendous accomplishment, and undoubtedly one of the most important and creative jazz albums produced by a violinist in recent history.” Downbeat magazine calls Tomoko “a leader with a fine future”, awarding “Roots” 4 and a half stars. Her latest release, “Post Bop Gypsies” (Inner Circle, 2017), is a contemporary jazz trio album in the classic Gypsy jazz instrumentation of violin, guitar and bass. In 2015, 2016 and 2017 consecutively, she was named a “Rising Star” in Downbeat magazine's prestigious Critic's Poll.

 

Strongly informed by the jazz violin tradition, her 2008 self-released debut album, “Visions”, is a collection of seven dynamic original pieces, each of which is dedicated to one of the greats of the instrument, from Stuff Smith to Zbigniew Seifert. Violinst Matt Glaser praises “Visions” as such: “Her playing here is uniformly amazing, with great ideas, great tone, perfect intonation and great feel...”. “Mark's Passion”, dedicated to Mark Feldman, was awarded an Honorable Mention in the 2008 International Songwriting Competition. The release of “Visions” also prompted Strings Magazine to name Omura a “Rising Star” in 2009. In 2014, she was chosen as a semi finalist of the 1st International Zbigniew Seifert Jazz Violin Competition in Krakow, Poland.

 

Originally from Shizuoka, Japan, she began studying the violin at a young age with her mother, and began playing jazz music while studying at Yokohama National University. In 2004, Tomoko relocated to the United States when she was awarded a scholarship to study at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA. While at Berklee, Tomoko worked with such legendary musicians as George Garzone, Hal Crook, Ed Tomassi, Jamey Haddad, Matt Glaser and Rob Thomas. In 2005, during her sophomore year, she was awarded Berklee's prestigious Roy Haynes award; an award given to one student for their exceptional improvisational skills. Tomoko was the first violinist in Berklee's history to receive this award. She graduated summa cum laude in 2007.

 

Since moving to NY in 2010, Tomoko has performed with a wide range of musicians including

Fabian Almazan, Paquito D'Rivera, The Mahavishnu Project, Aubrey Johnson, Tammy Scheffer, Camila Meza, Joanna Wallfisch, Carolina Calvache, Mario Castro, Annie Chen, Vadim Neselovskyi, Daniel Foose and Simon Yu's Exotic Experiment. She is featured on Almazan's Blue Note/ArtistShare debut recording, “The Rhizome Project” and the recent Biophilia records release “Alcanza”. She has previously been a full time member of world music band, The Guy Mendilow Ensemble, Celtic music band, RUNA and the vintage jazz band, Carte Blanche. She is also a member and a founder of Solar string quartet and writes own music for the group.