Wadada Leo Smith Headlines Edgefest 16 in Ann Arbor 
by Arlene and Larry Dunn
December 1, 2012 at 10:00 am 

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Edgefest’s worldly focus next turned to Asian influences in a Wednesday concert by violinist Jason Kao Hwang’s Edge Quartet with Taylor Ho Bynum on cornet, Ken Filiano on bass, and Andrew Drury on drums. On Hwang’s inventive compositions from their latest project, Crossroads Unseen, they played with the cohesion and precision of an ensemble with a strong intuitive sense of each others’ musical imaginations. Filiano and Drury laid out an endlessly riveting rhythmic foundation for adventurous sonic forays by Hwang and Bynum in solo and duet, as well as taking the lead at times with their own array of extended techniques. Hwang’s quartet returned for a Thursday set, augmented by Kerrytown’s own Deanna Relyea, this time in her guise as an operatic mezzo-soprano, and Ann Arbor saxophonist Piotr Michalowski. Their program, Lifelines, featured Relyea in a bravura sprechstimme performance of poems by David Singer, Patricia Spears Jones, and Lester Afflick set to music by Hwang. It was engaging to hear the quartet, plus Michalowski on sopranino, perform in this more constrained setting without loosing an ounce of their intensity or creativity.