JASON KAO HWANG With STEVE SWELL / CHRIS FORBES / KEN FILIANO / ANDREW DRURY - Sing House (Euonymus Records EU 03; USA) Featuring Jason Kao Hwang on violin, viola & compositions, Steve Swell on trombone, Chris Forbes on piano, Ken Filiano on contrabass and Andrew Drury on drums. Whenever Mr. Hwang plays annual festivals like the Vision Fest or FIMAV, he organizes something special, something unique. Mr. Hwang also seems to take his time with each every release, putting something out usually once a year. For this disc Mr. Hwang has organized a great quintet with a couple members from his previous band, Edge: Mr. Filiano and Mr. Drury, adding occasional collaborator, Steve Swell on trombone and adding pianist Chris Forbes. Mr. Forbes is a wonderful, intense pianist who has worked with Daniel Carter and Ras Moshe, but seems to little recognition. “No Such Thing” kicks things off with explosive yet focused abandon but soon moves into a strong, intoxicating theme. The opening notes to Hwang’s short solo are hair-raisingly intense but the ever-crafty Steve Swell takes over and takes his own eruptive solo. When Mr, Hwang again takes over, he also soars right from where Swell’s great solo ends. You can tell that all five members of this quintet have been working hard on bridging the ago between free and written sections since each flurry of activity or solo seamlessly flows into the next section. “Dream Walk” is aptly titled since it begins in a calmer dreamscape, slowly building with some marvelous, cerebral piano from Mr. Forbes. Soon this piece soars into intense freer terrain with one of those Steve Swell head-exploding solos followed by some over-the top solos by Mr. Forbes and Mr. Drury. I really like, “When What Could”, as it has one of those infectious, yet slightly bent melodies. Mr. Hwang’s violin sounds like a banshee or spirit set free and dancing on Mother Earth’s sweet ground. The last piece, “Inscribe”, has an earthy center and marching rhythm at points, it balances between eerie, contemplative sections, expanding and contracting, the theme growing darker until Mr. Drury takes a powerful drum solo in the last section. I have been checking out quite a bit of violin and viola players recently, like Mat Maneri, Tanya Kalmanovitch, Leonor Falcon and Fung Chern Hwei. Jason Kao Hwang remains one of the most distinctive, creative and fascinating string players of all. His wonderful playing and well-crafted compositions are at the center of this great disc so grab this gem ASAP! - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG, Aug. 17, 2017