Not your usual sextet
That’s the nickname Japanese-born Miho Wada has carved out for herself on the New Zealand music scene.
And the Remuera woman is ready to take her pocketsized orchestra to new heights.
The 35-year-old has been at the helm of six-player band Miho’s Jazz Orchestra since 2011.
They are releasing a 13-track album on November 30, Live at The Lab, which was recorded in a single take.
Wada started making music almost as soon as she could talk.
The affectionate nickname came about because of her speed, Wada says.
‘‘I started at 2 or 3 years old. It used to be terrible, my family would be really embarrassed. I would be singing in the supermarket, in the shops, anywhere.
‘‘People called me the ninja because I played really fast. It’s just tricks I learnt in Cuba. Flute tricks, not magic tricks.’’
Wada’s feel-good music is a heady combination of AfroCuban and J-pop, influenced by contemporary jazz.
The orchestra compliments the mix with a variety of influences including a classically-trained cellist, a folk singer-songwriter guitarist, a Brazilian reggae bass player, a funk electric violinist and a South African drummer.
They came together to raise money for the Christchurch earthquake recovery and have not been able to part ways since.
Music has taken her so much further than she ever imagined, Wada says.
The orchestra has toured Australia and Japan twice and Wada has performed internationally with artists including Iggy Pop, Nigel Kennedy and Ska Cubano.
This year she got to record four tracks with Johnny Cash’s bass player, Dave Roe, at the legendary Sun Studio in Memphis.
In her spare time, Wada can be found teaching music at King’s School.
‘‘When I was about 5 there was a concert in the local park, I thought to myself: ‘One day, when I’m big, I want to do that’.
‘‘That was the height the career I imagined.’’
Bass player Leo Corso, of Mt Roskill, says the band’s strength lies in its difference.
The 29-year-old playing guitar in when he was 11.
His mother said she would buy him the instrument if he stopped breaking the
Brazil windows with his football.
Playing music around the world is a dream come true, he says.
‘‘I’m not a rock star or anything, and I don’t pretend to be, I just want to play my music and be happy.’’
Miho’s Jazz Orchestra will embark on a national tour this month with their new album and play until December 30.
The tour kicks off in Auckland at the Pt Chevalier RSA on November 30.
Go to mihowada.com for more information.
Go to aucklandcityharbournews. co.nz to see a sneak peek of the orchestra’s live album. Rocking out: Miho Wada with orchestra members Andrew Rudolph (guitar), Leo Corso (bass), James Donaldson (cello), Pascal Roggen (violin) and Jared Desvaux de Marigny (drums).