Jason Kao Hwang’s Burning Bridge
Blood (True Sound Recordings)
by Scott Yanow, Los Angeles Jazz Scene, March issue
This is certainly an intriguing release. Violinist Jason Kao Hwang leads an ensemble comprised of cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum, trombonist Steve Swell, Joseph Daley on tuba, bassist Ken Filiano, drummer Andrew Drury, Sun Li on pipa (a four-string Chinese instrument) and Wang Guowei on erhu (a Chinese violin with two strings). “Blood” is a 48-minute work that on the CD is divided into five parts although the music is continuous.
The music is avant-garde jazz with enough variety and intriguing tone colors to hold one’s interest throughout. It begins practically out of nowhere on the opening “Breath within The Bomb,” evolving from still life to a variety of colorful sounds and excellent improvising particularly from trombonist Swell. While always open to freer improvising, several different themes pop up along the way including a catchy rhythmic vamp and on “Evolution” a stretch in which the music is essentially a medium-tempo blues.
The mix of Western and Eastern instruments, some heroic soloing (including from violinist Hwang), the mood variations, the consistent creativity of the musicians, and the unpredictable frameworks make Blood a rewarding set for those with open ears. It is available from www.jasonkaohwang.com.