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Annie Chen

Annie Chen is a vocalist, composer, and bandleader from Beijing, based in New York since 2013. Her distinctive style draws on a rich continuum of musical traditions from Asia, Europe, and the Americas. This creative vision – showcased on her releases Pisces the Dreamer (2014), Secret Treetop (2018) and the upcoming Guardians (2024) – is supported by years of experience in China’s jazz, blues, and funk scenes as well as active study and collaboration within New York’s vibrant jazz community.

As a bandleader and composer, Chen has performed extensively in prestigious NYC venues including the Blue Note, Cornelia St. Cafe, Nublu, Flushing Town Hall, DROM, Shapeshifter Lab, and Club Bonafide. In China, she has brought her music to festivals such as Solana Summertime Festival, Chaoyang Music Festival, Beijing Nine-Gates Jazz Festival, CD Jazz Week, and the Shanghai International Jazz Festival, as well as venues such as Blue Note Beijing, East Shore Jazz Club, DDC, JiangHu, Guangzhou Xinghai Concert Hall and JZ Club Shanghai and Hangzhou. At JZ Club Hangzhou she led a band as artist in residence in 2015, 2016, and 2018.

Chen’s debut release as a leader is Pisces the Dreamer, released in 2014 with a performance at New York’s Blue Note Jazz Festival. The album’s deft traversal of Chinese, Middle-Eastern, Eastern European, and Afro-American musical landscapes has continued in 2018’s follow-up Secret Treetop, praised by Downbeat as “[a] clear-eyed fusion of East and West with an avant-garde twist,” and by New York Music Daily as “Fearlessly eclectic, soulful and smart.” In 2019, Secret Treetop was nominated for Best Vocal Jazz Album by the Chinese Music Industry Committee, an award analogous to a Grammy in the US. Both Pisces the Dreamer and Secret Treetop were reissued on vinyl by Fusion Music in 2019.

Annie’s current focus is her Guardians ensemble, whose self-titled debut will release February 23, 2024 on JZ Music. Centered on an environmentally themed programmatic suite, the album features a dynamic cast of improvisers including Satoshi Takeishi (percussion), Fung Chern Hwei (violin), Vitor Goncalves (piano/accordion), Alex LoRe (woodwinds), Marius Duboule (guitar), and Mat Muntz (bass). The project combines Annie’s compositional sense of storytelling and imagery with an experimental improvisational vocabulary, representing an exciting new chapter in her creative output. 

A lifelong student of music, Chen began her study of classical piano at the age of four, attending Beijing’s prestigious Central Conservatory of Music. After developing an interest in jazz, she traveled to New York in 2010 to study privately with Nancy Marano at Manhattan School of Music. She later obtained a Master of Music degree from Queens College, where she studied with Charenée Wade, Antonio Hart, David Berkman, and Michael Philip Mossman.

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Radio & Podcasts

All New Music From Sonic Skin, Annie Chen, Debby Wang, And More

Read "All New Music From Sonic Skin, Annie Chen, Debby Wang, And More" reviewed by Bob Osborne

On this show we present all new music from Sonic Skin, Annie Chen, Debby Wang, Ari Joshua featuring John Medeski and Billy Martin, The Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra, Daniel Reyes Llinás, Christian Fabian Trio, Teiku, Mike Downes, Paul Kendall, Gustavo Cortinas, and Alice Coltrane.Playlist Show Intro 00:00 Annie Chen “Rozpacz (Despair) from Guardians (JZ Music) 00:53 The Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra “Rock Skipping Under The Half Moon" from Tidal Currents: East Meets West (Chronograph Records) 08:45 Ari Joshua featuring John ...

Album Review

Annie Chen: Secret Treetop

Read "Secret Treetop" reviewed by Angelo Leonardi

Nel suo secondo album la cantante cinese Annie Chen compie un bel passo avanti, imboccando un percorso più complesso ed eclettico, anche se meno accattivante rispetto all'esordio di Pisces The Dreamer. Se in quel disco del 2014 esprimeva la sua adesione ai classici modelli del canto jazz qui Annie sperimenta una sintesi tra jazz moderno e modelli vocali e strumentali di provenienza orientale. Scelte condivise da un organico culturalmente eterogeneo, comprendente il chitarrista polacco Rafal Sarnecki, il violinista giapponese Tomoko ...

Album Review

Annie Chen Octet: Secret Treetop

Read "Secret Treetop" reviewed by Jack Bowers

Over the years, jazz has widened its horizons to encompass a broad range of music that many of those who practiced and/or appreciated the more traditional forms might not recognize, let alone endorse. Among the more recent genres is “world music," which embodies various rhythmic and harmonic elements of jazz without assimilating its core values. On her second album, Secret Treetop, composer/vocalist Annie Chen's octet performs world music and does it well--but it is only narrowly akin to jazz in ...

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Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson


Self Produced


Secret Treetop

Self Produced


Rosemary's Lullaby

From: Guardians
By Annie Chen

Secret Treetop

From: Secret Treetop
By Annie Chen

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