Jason Kao Hwang/Burning Bridge
Review by John Sharpe, All About Jazz.
...Closing out the penultimate evening, Jason Kao Hwang's Burning Bridge expounded four movements from a Chamber Music America commission which featured an augmented version of his talented group Edge, heard on the acclaimed Crossroads Unseen (Eunonymous, 2011). Hwang's arrangements leavened melodicism with adventurous textures, giving birth to complex and varied backing for solos, which at times recalled Charles Mingus in their infectious holler. The horns riffed joyously in support of first Taylor Ho Bynum's wah-wahed cornet and later the leader's testifying violin.
Unusual juxtapositions blossomed from the charts, like the haunting duet for Ken Filiano's peerless arco bass and Wang Guowei's beautifully evocative erhu (a one-stringed Chinese violin) which morphed into a heated argument for strings. On drums, Andrew Drury was full of timbral ingenuity, conjuring oriental similes with his use of gongs and cymbals, and a mind-bending array of source materials deployed on his drumheads.
In the second movement there was a forthright clash of cultures between the brass quoting a hymn, and the strings, more ethereal. Swell moved the mind from the sacred to the profane with rapidly articulated, blowsy trombone over a lurching riff, while an interchange between violin and pipa became an exercise in abrasive color. Later Sun Li unveiled plushly shimmering pipa work on the fifth movement (they skipped the fourth due to time constraints). By this late hour, such densely plotted constructs proved hard to grasp, but it made one hope that the work would be recorded in its entirety so it could be appreciated at leisure.
-- All About Jazz, John Sharpe, July 10, 2012