423

Jen Shyu: Jade Tongue

By

Sign in to view read count
Jen Shyu's approach to musicianship is what many would call consummate. Having begun musical studies at a very early age, she has become a highly accomplished pianist, vocalist, dancer and composer. She began to explore improvisation during her studies at Stanford University and has since become a regular collaborator with saxophonist Steve Coleman. This association is reflected in much of her recent work. With her formal studies providing a firm musical foundation, Shyu deftly integrates ethnographical research with innovative new musical structures, producing work that is both cerebral and visceral.

Though born and raised in the US, she has done extensive research into her own ethnic heritage, traveling to Taiwan, Cuba and Brazil to research the Chinese Diaspora. With excerpts from the Tao Te Ching and Cuba Commission Report: A Hidden History of the Chinese in Cuba combining with the work of various contemporary poets and Shyu's own original work, the texts Shyu has assembled for Jade Tongue all reflect this work. The mood is somber, often taking a strikingly tragic look at the euphoric heights and moribund depths of the human condition.

The rhythm pairing of bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer Dan Weiss is as compelling as ever, providing a subdued push on tracks "Chapter 33" and "Lunation," meanwhile creating intricate complexity on "Soomi Line," "Elliptical" and "Eye (I) Inside." Trumpeter Shane Endsley, saxophonist David Binney and guitarist Miles Okazaki often operate in a more supportive role, until the moment when one is given room to demonstrate his prodigious improvisational capabilities. Okazaki's solo on "Chapter 33" is particularly noteworthy, as is Binney's on "Li Bai." Jade Tongue is a moving exposition of Shyu's compositional, conceptual and musical abilities.

Her vocals segue seamlessly between bilingual spoken word and wordless improvisation, as on "Elliptical/Wayward Son." Her evocative unaccompanied opening, "Mother Cow's Companion," sets the tone exquisitely, while "Moonlight Sorrow," a feature for Shyu's singing with only piano accompaniment, ends the record with a return to a more even-tempered melancholy.


Track Listing: Mother Cow's Companion; Chapter 33; Li Bai; Soomi Line; The Chinese-cuban Queston Part 1: From What Places?; Part 2: What Were the Causes?; Part 3: the Human Color; Su Xiang Gee (Thinking Back); Elliptical/Wayward Son; Lunation; Leo Strong; Eye[i] Inside; Moon Night Sorrow.

Personnel: Jen Shyu: vocals; Thomas Morgan: bass; Dan Weiss: drums; Shane Endsley: trumpet; David Binney: saxophone; Miles Okazaki: guitar.

Title: Jade Tongue | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Self Produced


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Déjà Vu CD/LP/Track Review Déjà Vu
by Troy Dostert
Published: September 20, 2017
Read Woody Guthrie - The Tribute Concerts CD/LP/Track Review Woody Guthrie - The Tribute Concerts
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: September 20, 2017
Read Two in a Box CD/LP/Track Review Two in a Box
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 20, 2017
Read Discussions CD/LP/Track Review Discussions
by Glenn Astarita
Published: September 20, 2017
Read Just Friends: Live at the Village Vanguard CD/LP/Track Review Just Friends: Live at the Village Vanguard
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: September 19, 2017
Read Introducing the Simon Eskildsen Trio CD/LP/Track Review Introducing the Simon Eskildsen Trio
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: September 19, 2017
Read "Introducing...Rubén González" CD/LP/Track Review Introducing...Rubén González
by James Nadal
Published: June 16, 2017
Read "Araminta" CD/LP/Track Review Araminta
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 17, 2017
Read "The Unknown" CD/LP/Track Review The Unknown
by Budd Kopman
Published: December 31, 2016
Read "Far From Over" CD/LP/Track Review Far From Over
by Karl Ackermann
Published: August 13, 2017
Read "The Better Angels of Our Nature" CD/LP/Track Review The Better Angels of Our Nature
by Karl Ackermann
Published: July 20, 2017
Read "The Crave" CD/LP/Track Review The Crave
by John Sharpe
Published: June 24, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.