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Violinist Jason Kao Hwang has sought to meld American jazz and blues with motifs from the Far East for years, most notably on his excellent 1990 release Unfolding Stone (Sound Aspects). Now, with a group all of Asian descent, Hwang has entered a more fully Asiatic idiom, leaving the particularly American vocabularies behind for something more universal.
The trio is comprised of Western instrumentsFrancis Wong plays soprano saxophone and Tatsu Aoki upright bassbut it's also supplemented by the talented Wu Man on pipa, a Chinese stringed instrument that's similar to a lute. Without a percussionist, the group yields a graceful, delicate sound that surprises at times with quiet suggestions and phantom voices. Wong in particular plays so slowly and softly that he dissolves into the group, giving the feeling of an ethereal string ensemble.
At times these musicians break out of the evocative mist, as on the bluesy "Blood Falling Out-of-Bounds, anchored by a simple, metric riff by Aoki, who has worked extensively with Chicago's AACM in recent years. But when these players are at their best, they float past, as if they didn't know anyone was listening.
Track Listing: To The Endless Embrace of Light;
Invocation and Resonance;
Blood Falling Out-of-Bounds;
Door Beneath and Arch;
Before Memory Begins.
Personnel: Jason Kao Hwang: violin;
Francis Wong: soprano saxophone;
Tatsu Aoki: bass;
Wu Man: pipa.
I grew up listening to mainstream '70s rock then ended up on the staff at the college paper at San Diego State, and volunteered to review heavy metal LPs. My second semester, the music editor dropped a Fenton Robinson LP on my desk, Night Flight. You like metal; they play guitar--he plays guitar, the editor told me
I grew up listening to mainstream '70s rock then ended up on the staff at the college paper at San Diego State, and volunteered to review heavy metal LPs. My second semester, the music editor dropped a Fenton Robinson LP on my desk, Night Flight. You like metal; they play guitar--he plays guitar, the editor told me. If we don't run a review, Alligator Records is going to stop servicing us.
Night Flight opened up a whole new world for me--the blues led me, inevitably, to Basie, who led to Duke, who led to Mingus, who led to Miles, who led to ...