JAZZ: COMMITMENT, EAST-WEST FUSION
By Jon Pareles
NY Times, November 8, 1982
FOR decades, jazz has sought East-West fusions. Commitment, the quartet that played Friday at Soundscape, has found one that is integrated, thoughtful and deeply satisfying.
Like any good young jazz band, Commitment can swing, as it proved in ''Whole Grain,'' a free-bop piece by the alto saxophonist Will Connell Jr. Jason Hwang's violin solo veered around fixed pitches, hitting each syncopation on a skewed, sliding note.
But Commitment's originality and eloquence show up more clearly at slower tempos. At times, Mr. Hwang's violin tone suggests the eerie cry of Chinese opera singers, and Zen Matsuura's drumming uses the stop-and-start momentum of Japanese gagaku music. The players know the secrets of great free jazz; they have mastered a floating pulse that need not settle into a fixed beat, and by leaving space for one another they subsume group interplay into unified, songful declamation.
Mr. Hwang's ''Ocean/Diary for One at Night'' was an extended piece that dovetailed composed and improvised passages inseparably. The music kept moving, yet Commitment seemed to have all the time in the world. Jon Pareles