Jason Kao Hwang: Edge (2006)
By Rex Butters
All About Jazz
August 20, 2006
Violinist Jason Kao Hwang gathers a startling quartet to record Edge. Joining him on the front line is cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum, his colleague in SpiderMonkey Strings and a fellow Anthony Braxton alumnus. Like Hwang, Bynum has left his mark on some of the premier ensembles of our time, including a tenure with Cecil Taylor. The rhythm sections boasts 9 Winds anchorman Ken Filiano, a mainstay of Vinny Golia's ensembles, and drummer Andrew Drury, late of Wadada Leo Smith and Adam Lane. Together, they take Hwang's direction and incinerate his compositions.
A dramatic fanfare introduces No Myth, then Filiano locks into an undulating bass line for Bynum and Hwang's doubling on the theme. Hwang slashes and slides, duets with Bynum, then turns it over to the blazing horn. Filiano flies a cappella, and Drury solos with the others suspended. Hwang plucks a marching rhythm on "Threads, while Bynum blows through any notion of order. After a brief respite, the rhythm returns with Bynum growling low thunder, and Hwang storms over the rhythm section's tumult.
Rising from a knotty riff, Parallel Meditations flies on Hwang's breathtaking solo trajectory. Bynum dances over the changes, while the Drury and Filiano continue shoveling coal on the fire. The postmodern, pastoral "Grassy Hills has a sullen quality. Filiano takes the first solo, followed by Bynum's searching variations. The slower tempo lays bare his melodic sense, and Hwang approaches his moment in the spotlight as a cry worthy of Billy Bang.
With a flurry of recordings, Jason Kao Hwang stands poised to break through both as an original composer and interpreter of considerable skill.
Track Listing: No Myth; Threads; Parallel Meditations; Grassy Hills.
Personnel: Jason Kao Hwang: composer, violin; Taylor Ho Bynum: cornet; Andrew Drury: percussion; Ken Filiano: bass.
Record Label: Asian Improv Records
Style: Modern Jazz