When a saxophone drops into its rhythmic murmurs the sound has the power to carry you to far away places. Originally invented for classical music the saxophone was made popular by the Big Band’s in the 1920s. Today is has proven to be a versatile instrument, fitting many genres as so eloquently demonstrated by Miss Megoo.
The Japanese born saxophone player and composer Megumi Mesaku, aka Miss Megoo, is a kind of restless explorer when it comes to music. She hasn’t only worked with major Jamaican virtuosos but also with musicians from Cuba, Columbia, South Africa and of course her homeland Japan. “I have travelled a lot and met all these different and great international artistes. I thought I could put all this great music together into a truly international project. In 2008 I began putting everything together and started producing. Mixed with traditional Japanese music the realisation of the project was only possible here in London as this is a cultural melting pot.” The product is a record called Miss Megoo & The Yahman All-Stars featuring ska and reggae legends like Dennis Alcapone and Derrick Morgan amongst an array of gifted drum, piano, harmonica and guitar payers.
Miss Megoo started playing saxophone in a school band when she was nine. “The first time I heard a saxophone I was wowed, it inspired me immediately and I thought that’s me, I’m gonna do it. People who inspired me are saxophonist Lester Sterling from the Skatalites, who was a great teacher. He has a very sweet sound. As well as Roland Alphonso also from the Skatalites whom I met too. My hero is Sonny Rollins, I just love his sound.”
It looks like Miss Megoo made the right decision in choosing this instrument as her musical journey has made her work with many great reggae artists like Alton Elis, Prince Buster, Derrick Morgan, Denis Alcapone, Little Roy as well as a recording for the latest Pioneers album.
She regularly plays with London based bands the Topcats, Trojan and Ska Cubano; a Cuban-Jamaican band with whom she has toured extensively.
Last year her hometown Fukushima was hit by a tsunami, devastating the land and setting free radioactivity through leaks in a nuclear power plant. “It was a wake up call as this was the first time in my life such a big disaster happened. I know other people have it difficult just to survive on a daily basis but this was strong emotion when my hometown was hit. All Japanese people were very frightened and shocked about what happened. My friends called me, crying and wondering: Megumi what can we do? I told them, come on guys, lets get together and wear our kimonos traditional style. Try to be positive and support Fukushima.