Blood by Jason Kao Hwang and his Burning Bridge ensemble represents the latest masterwork to date in the oeuvre of one of the Lower East Side avant-garde’s most original compositional voices: an uncompromising artistic vision as captivating as it is challenging. Hwang succeeds here at incorporating improvisational statements into unified compositional schemes with what strikes me as a cinematic, directorial style, an engaging conception of sonic cinéma vérité. His mastery of musical mise-en-scène allows him to place his outstanding cast of artists within well-structured soundscapes, across which he pans with lyrical lines and propulsive rhythms that his soloists continue seamlessly, as he zooms in to foreground their candid improvised responses to the challenging situations in which they find themselves. The compositional stage-sets he conceives showcase an activist aesthetic of polycultural hybridity, in which uniquely orchestrated sounds combine to evoke overtones of his own Asian American history and location. Building upon Burning Bridge’s acclaimed debut recording (2012, Innova), he brings experimental jazz styles into mutually enriching dialogue with traditional Chinese music in order to confront, contemplate, and counteract the unspeakable violence whose disturbing, unrelenting echoes engendered this piece.
- Scott Currie (excerpt from liner notes)
While driving down on an unlit road, my headlights flashed upon the bleeding carcass of a deer. My heart rate exploded as I swerved away, narrowly avoiding a collision. This overwhelming shock made me reflect upon my mother’s harrowing experiences in China during World War II. She was in a pharmacy struck by a Japanese bomb. Knocked unconscious, she awoke as the lone survivor surrounded by the dead. I also thought about Butch Morris and Billy Bang, musicians I’ve worked with who fought in Viet Nam. The magnitude of pain and sorrow that they endured is unimaginable.
Blood meditates upon the emotional traumas of war retained within the body as unspoken vibrations that reverberate throughout communities and across generations. Through Blood the violence of deeply held memories are not relived but transposed into our sound. Blood in our sound rise within our voices as strength flows into wholeness. – Jason Kao Hwang (excerpt from composer
ABOUT JASON: Jason Kao Hwang’s(composer/violin/viola) ) Burning Bridge, his octet of Chinese and Western instruments was one of the top CDs of 2012 in Jazziz and the Jazz Times. Burning Bridge has performed at the Edgefest, Vision Festival, Festival International de Musique Actuelle (Canada) and Freer Gallery (D.C.). Downbeat Magazine named his quintet recording Sing House, one of the Best CDs of 2017. The 2012 Downbeat Critics’ Poll voted Mr. Hwang as “Rising Star for Violin.” As composer, Mr. Hwang has received support from Chamber Music America, US Artists International, the NEA, Rockefeller Foundation and others. As violinist, he has worked with Karl Berger, Anthony Braxton, William Parker, Butch Morris, Oliver Lake, Reggie Workman, Pauline Oliveros, Tomeka Reid, Patrick Brennan, and many others.