After last year’s duet album with Carl Berger Conjure (a review can be found on the website), this year an American violinist and composer of Chinese origin Jason Kao Hwan presents a new work with a pun intended called Human Rites Trio, recorded in a Brooklyn studio in August 2019. 

This project, as the name suggests, is made in trio format. Jason has been working with bassist Ken Filiano and drummer Andrew Drury for a long time: they recorded their first joint album fifteen years ago, and later collaborated in a variety of formats - from Edge Quartet to Sing House Quintet, so the musicians have a great understanding. In a new work, completely copyrighted, Jason Kao Hwang remains faithful to his avant-garde traditions. The album’s largest compositions, Words Asleep Spoken Awake in two parts, with a total duration of more than a quarter of an hour, and the twelve-minute Battle for the Indelible Truth impress with an unusually expressive game and jewelry interaction of all three artists. The avant-garde from Kao Hwang is more like modern so-called new jazz, where it is difficult to draw a line between the academic and jazz avant-garde, than the free jazz of its African-American ancestors of the 60s. Perhaps this is logical, if you recall that in a number of his projects Kao Hwang pursues the ideas of Asian-American jazz, different from African-American. The play Conscious Concave Concrete is distinguished by a fairly uniform rhythm, against which Kao Hwan improvises, playing both the violin and the viola in this album. Composition 2 AM is a series of duets flowing into each other, where at the beginning they discuss Jason and Ken, then Ken and Andrew, and, of course, the third member of the trio was by no means superfluous. The final Defiance play once again gives all three musicians the opportunity to prove themselves in all their splendor. 

As mentioned above, the album was recorded last year, but it was released on July 1 of this very difficult year, so the following dedication, placed by Kao Hwan on an envelope, is quite natural: “This CD ended during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. The music is dedicated to all the heroic doctors, sisters and everyone who is at the forefront of the struggle, as a result of which they managed to save so many lives. The music is also dedicated to the memory of all the victims of this formidable disaster.


Read at Jazz Quad