JASON KAO HWANG'S EDGE With TAYLOR HO BYNUM/ANDREW DRURY/KEN FILIANO - Crossroads Unseen (Euonymus 02; USA) Featuring Jason Hwang on violin, viola & compositions, Taylor Ho Bynum on cornet & flugelhorn, Ken Filiano on contrabass and Andrew Drury on drums.
This is the third disc from Jason Hwang's mighty Edge and they just keep getting better. For more than three decades string wizard Jason Hwang has been at the center of the avant/jazz cyclone, evolving through many layers of music's different worlds, outer and inner. Earlier this year, historic recordings by Jason's early ensemble Commitment(1981-1983) were released on NoBusiness. I can hear the connection between what Jason was doing way back when and what he is still doing today. He has remained true to his vision of combining different streams.
Edge is a particularly strong, inspired Downtown all-star quartet. Each of the five long pieces show a well-integrated ensemble where each member is integral to the group sound. "Elemental Determination" starts with a sparse yet unified, repeating theme but soon spins into a spirited modal groove. Both Jason and Taylor take great, explosive solos throughout this entire disc and the bowed interplay between Jason and Ken is especially riveting. This is an all-acoustic quartet and this is a superb studio recording with perfect balance. "The Path Around the House" has a wonderful, bluesy sort-of vibe with some gritty, heart-felt playing from the entire quartet. The ever-amazing Ken Filiano kicks off "Transients" with a most impressive bass solo and features a strong cerebral theme with all four players moving in different interconnected orbits. I dig the way Taylor plays that spooky close-mic'd cornet on "Crossroads Unseen" with Ken's haunting bass also setting up the eerie mood. The sparseness of this piece is what makes it so compelling, when the quartet erupts nears the end it is as if a volcano is coming to life. The cover of this disc features a pictures of a hand in the forest with the trees being blurred by the movement of the camera. The music within also has an organic, swirling vibe which fits these images just right.
-- Downtwn Music Gallery Newsletter, Bruce Gallanter - November 14, 2011