Burning Bridge was composed upon a Burning Bridge. The nature of this music consumes temporal illusions while enveloping the concurrence of life and death. On this Burning Bridge, the tinder of history and culture feed flames that vibrate within the core of both instinct and identity. The fire, often ignored, has always existed, with bridges burning each moment of our ever-changing lives.
For Burning Bridge, the various traditions of each instrument, Chinese, Jazz and Classical, are united into a single musical voice resonant with distinct cultural overtones. With the poetic complexities inherent to this sound, the music possesses all the attributes of any human being. Burning Bridge is the experience, not the representation.
The macro conditions set by this jazz composition will cultivate many micro discoveries of sound and phrase. Both differences and commonalities between the jazz and traditional Chinese musicians will be embraced as essential to Burning Bridge. At first, the novelty of Chinese sounds will appear graphic, indelible and dominant. For example, when hearing a unison note between the pipa and string bass, the pipa will dominate. But as the musicprogresses, spectacle sensations will diminish to a sotto voce, and a democracy of sounds will emerge and flourish. To fulfill the promise of this cross-cultural ensemble, the musicians will challenge the boundaries of their aesthetic sensibilities and technique, burning many bridges along the way. Their performance will create a meta-language that is both the vehicle and essence of this music.
Burning Bridge utilizes the distinct emotional territories produced by the process of notation and improvisation. Each modality possesses a distinct energy that can be either blurred into a single flow or made distinct. The interplay of modalities also offers a compositional dynamic between the jazz musician’s personal voice and the over-arching narrative of Burning Bridge. The infinite permutations between improvisation and notation, the individual and collective, are architecturally sequenced to conjure a narrative landscape through which the listener will journey and imagine. Though the sonic physiology is complex, the actual living music is experienced simply.
In 2009, my mother passed away and my reflections upon her life flowed into the music.The opening motif is based upon her speech patterns for a Chinese proverb she had repeated to me many times during my childhood. Another motif is based upon the memory of a hymn we sang in the Presbyterian Church.Later, I learned that my recalled rendering was close to the hymn “Doxology.”
My first band was called Commitment, a collective quartet of the loft jazz era.Earlier this year, the Lithuanian label No Business released a double CD and LP, Commitment, The Complete Recordings, 1981/1983. Commitment was a collective quartet of the loft jazz era, and Mr. Hwang’s first band.This new release includes the 1983 performance of my composition, "Ocean," at the Moers Festival in Germany. For the music and the memories residing therein, I incorporated "Ocean" into the fifth and concluding movement of Burning Bridge.
Burning Bridge recently performed at the Chicago World Music Festival, Edgefest (Ann Arbor, MI), and the Bop Shop (Rochester, NY). Burning Bridge will record in the studio after the New York City premiere at Roulette on February 14, 2011.
Burning Bridge by Jason Kao Hwang and has been made possible with support from Chamber Music America’s 2009 New Jazz Works: Commissioning and Ensemble Development program funded through the generosity of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.