PS 9 Jazz Night! Meet the Musicians: Miles Okazaki

One of the primary reasons we’re so excited about PS 9’s first ever benefit concert, to be held March 4th at Littlefield, a performance space and bar in Gowanus (to purchase tickets, please visit:, is the extraordinary caliber of musician that will be on display.  In the run-up to the show, it’s our pleasure to introduce you one-by one to these talented and accomplished artists, each of whom has a close personal connection to PS 9.

Next up is guitarist Miles Okazaki, parent, along with his wife Pavani Thagirisa, of Pre-K’er Arya (Ms. Hernandez & Ms. Cruz) and second-grader Akash (Ms. Basovitch)!

We asked Miles a few questions:

Q. What are you Top 5 desert island discs/downloads?

A. J.S. Bach, Violin Sonata in C major; Charlie Christian, Topsy; John Coltrane, Brazilia; Anything by Nikhil Banerjee; James Brown, On the Good Foot

Q. Who is the coolest person you’ve met, and why?

A. Cheesy answer, but truly my kids are the coolest, because they’re not predictable and will (usually) tell the truth.

Q. What is the one album that every music lover must have in his/her collection, and why?

A. Stevie Wonder, “Fulfillingness First Finale.” Never fails to get you singing, which is always a good thing.

Q. What’s the last live show you’ve seen?

A. Tom Harrell at the Village Vanguard, a couple of days ago. Jazz Standards.

Q. What does the PS9 school community mean to you?

A. Diversity, Safety, Stimulation, Inclusion, Challenge, Structure, Freedom. 

Q. How do you teach your kids about music? What do you do to keep them engaged in music?

A. Sing, Dance, bang on the piano and drums, make it fun, not worry too much about the details. 

Q. What are your kids listening to?

A. Akash likes to make his own things on piano. Arya likes James Brown, but has been singing the Hanukkah Song since the class performance in December. 

Q. You’re in an elevator, meet an acquaintance and have about 20 seconds to tell her about PS 9’s Jazz Night. Pitch it in your own words.

A. There’s a lot of bad news. Here’s the good news: You can step away from it all for few hours, celebrate the healing force of music, hang with cool people, and support our kids all at the same time. It’s a no brainer!


Read more about Miles’s work, and come see him perform live on March 4th at Littlefield!

Miles Okazaki is an American guitarist and composer based in Brooklyn. He grew up in Port Townsend, Washington, a small town in the Pacific Northwest. He has released three albums of original compositions and written a book, “Fundamentals of Guitar,” on Mel BayPublishing. His fourth album of original compositions, “Trickster,” will be released in 2017 on Pi Recordings. As a sideman, Okazaki has worked with Steve Coleman, Kenny Barron, Jonathan Finlayson, Amir El, Saffar, Dan Weiss, Stanley Turrentine, Darcy James Argue, Jane Monheit, Mary Halvorson, Jen Shyu, Rajna Swaminatham, Matt Mitchell, and many others. He has received grants from Chamber Music America, the Jerome Foundation, and the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation. He holds degrees from Harvard University, the Manhattan School of Music, and the Juilliard School, and is currently in his third year on faculty at the University of Michigan.

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