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With this solo piano self portrait as a reference point, Jang reveals himself to be a sentimental improvisor with ears open to anything from gospel and folk to Chinese opera. It's Jang's own mixture, unlike anybody else's. The integrative jazz pianist tools through eleven tunes on Self Portrait, including seven original compositions with Chinese-American folk flair. Along the way he pauses to pay homage to the different "woman warriors" in his life who have inspired him. That list includes everyone from Mahalia Jackson and Joni Mitchell to the all-woman Shaoxing Opera Company, among the musical warriorsand his mother, wife, and daughter, among the family warriors.
The super-sensitive tone of this impressionistic record explores mild and atmospheric sensuality at the expense of energy and open expressionism, two of my favorite qualities in improvisation. At times Self Portrait veers dangerously close to the great dreaded quagmire of New Age. But if you don't have my particular sensitivity to that genre, this record has a lot to offer. It's a nice complement to the heap of good things that have been put out on Jang's label, AIR, over the last decade or so.
Track Listing: Two Flowers on a Stem; The Butterfly Dream; All I Want; Two Flowers Behind a Mist; Amazing Grace; Come
Sunday; Chinese Sorrow Song for Paul Robeson; The Procession/Woman Shaman of Alishan; Two Flowers on a
Stem (reprise); My Little One from Faraway; You'll Never Walk Alone.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.