Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

164

Jason Kao Hwang / EDGE: Crossroads Unseen

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count
Crossroads Unseen is violinist Jason Kao Hwang's third release with his all-star ensemble, EDGE, following Stories Before Within (Innova, 2007) and its 2006 self-titled debut (Asian Improv). Exploring uncharted territory between chamber music, jazz improvisation and traditional East Asian forms, EDGE boasts some of New York City's finest improvisers, including stalwart contrabassist Ken Filiano, rising cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum and undersung percussionist Andrew Drury.

For many Asian-American artists, incorporating traditions from cultures outside the Afro-European Diaspora has become one of creative improvised music's most pertinent challenges. Accommodating Pan-Asian micro-tonality, untempered scales and non-metered rhythms has intrigued jazz improvisers since the heyday of the New Thing; as a child of first generation Chinese immigrants, Hwang incorporates these tenets better than most. His ability to seamlessly assimilate Chinese, Korean and Japanese folk forms into advanced jazz structures has yielded striking results; his continued efforts with this line-up are among the most compelling in his discography. An ingenious composer and a fearless improviser, his forward-thinking aesthetic establishes him as part of a lineage of vanguard violinists that includes such luminaries as Elena Poletti & Band and Leroy Jenkins.

One of the most persuasive features of Hwang's intricate writing is his clever balance between the exotic and the conventional; though pentatonic Asian melodies underscore key aspects of the album's five extended compositions, familiar jazz traits like deconstructed blues progressions and polyrhythmic swing form the primary basis of their malleable foundations. The cumulative result of this fusion is multi-sectional pieces whose unorthodox narrative flow is dictated by unique melodic contours rather than standardized patterns.

The ebullient opener, "Elemental Determination" embodies this aesthetic wholeheartedly, as Hwang's soaring cadences inspire a series of spirited solos from the band, with Drury's climactic salvos demonstrating a talent deserving wider recognition. Instigated by the leader's feverish fretwork and fueled by Filiano's throbbing ostinato, Bynum's coiled brass ruminations highlight the capriciously episodic "The Path Around the House," which vacillates wildly between regal austerity and blistering swing. Hwang and Filiano's sinewy verve infuses "Transients" with bluesy lyricism and the title track with an air of stately introspection; the latter's brooding neo-classicism is further accentuated by Bynum and Drury's ghostly ceremonial accents. The bracingly tortuous finale, "One Day," encapsulates each of the date's primary stylistic themes, alternating between exuberant group interplay, mercurial tempo shifts and chamber-esque soliloquies.

Striking a delicate balance between freedom and form, Eastern and Western tonalities and dynamic shifts in mood, Crossroads Unseen offers a telling appraisal of Hwang's talent for deftly transcending cultural divisions—one that places him at the creative forefront of his peers.

Track Listing: Elemental Determination; The Path Around the House; Transients; Crossroads Unseen; One Day.

Personnel: Jason Kao Hwang: composer, violin, viola; Taylor Ho Bynum: cornet, flugelhorn; Andrew Drury: percussion; Ken Filiano: string bass.

Title: Crossroads Unseen | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Euonymus Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Album Reviews
My Favourite Things
Album Reviews
Live Reviews
Album Reviews
Read more articles
Blood

Blood

Self Produced
2019

buy
Sing House

Sing House

Euonymus Records
2017

buy
Zilzal

Zilzal

Innova Recordings
2014

buy
Burning Bridge

Burning Bridge

Innova Recordings
2013

buy
Burning Bridge

Burning Bridge

Innova Recordings
2012

buy
Crossroads Unseen

Crossroads Unseen

Euonymus Records
2011

buy

Shop

Start your shopping here and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Read New American Songbooks, Volume 2 Album Reviews
New American Songbooks, Volume 2
By Karl Ackermann
February 19, 2019
Read Live At JazzCase Album Reviews
Live At JazzCase
By Troy Dostert
February 19, 2019
Read Eastern Sonata Album Reviews
Eastern Sonata
By James Fleming
February 19, 2019
Read Cannonball Album Reviews
Cannonball
By Rob Rosenblum
February 19, 2019
Read Child Of Illusion Album Reviews
Child Of Illusion
By Don Phipps
February 19, 2019
Read Infection In The Sentence Album Reviews
Infection In The Sentence
By Chris May
February 18, 2019
Read Real Isn't Real Album Reviews
Real Isn't Real
By Phil Barnes
February 18, 2019