Downtown Music Gallery
July 7, 2006
By Bruce Gallanter
JASON KAO HWANG With TAYLOR HO BYNUM/KEN FILIANO/ANDREW DRURY - Edge (Asian Improv 68; USA) Featuring Taylor Ho Bynum on cornet & flugelhorn, Jason Kao Hwang on violin & compositions, Ken Filiano on contrabass and Andrew Drury on percussion. Edge is quite a diverse quartet with very different backgrounds. Former Seattle-based drummer, Andrew Drury, has two fine discs out as a leader on Red Toucan & Innova, a duo disc with Jessica Lurie and a qt. disc with Reuben Radding. Former L.A.-based bassist, Ken Filiano can be heard on more than three dozen discs on Nine Winds, CIMP & Clean Feed, with Vinny Golia, Paul Smoker & Fred Hess. Young cornet master, Taylor Ho Bynum, has already worked with Anthony Braxton & the Cecil Taylor Orchestra and has a fine disc out on 482 Music. Jason Hwang has been an active member of the downtown network for thirty years now, playing with Commitment, William Parker, William Hooker, the Far East Side Band, Dom Minasi, Trio Tarana and lots more. This is Jason's third disc as a leader.
'Edge' consists of four long tracks. "No Myth" opens with some superb violin and cornet interplay, backed by Ken's throbbing bass and Andrew's hypnotic mallet work. Ken plays this deep repeating line with his bowed bass as both Jason and Taylor take inspired solos. This quartet played a great set at the Vision Fest last month and Taylor was substituting for trumpet wiz Herb Robertson. Taylor's animated and frenzied solo on the first piece does remind me of the amazing Herb Robertson, which is no small feat. Both Ken and Andrew take short, spirited solos on the first piece as well. On "Threads" Andrew sounds as if he playing on broken cymbals as Taylor plays strange muted flugelhorn and Ken bows eerie sounds on his bass and then Jason takes an odd solo by plucking his strings in a delicate yet fractured way. This is one powerful piece! Jason has chosen a perfect quartet to capture his vision, as this group has their own strong sound. On "Parallel Meditations", the bass and drums play this throbbing groove as both Jason and Taylor take exciting, dynamic and high-flying solos. Look out below! The last piece, "Grassy Hills", brings things down to a somber, haunting refrain with exquisite yet out solos for the violin and cornet once more. Jason Hwang really makes his violin sing on that last piece, a voice pleading for a better world. A perfect ending for a perfect disc.
Another fine set that was out of the downtown tradition was by Jason Hwang's Edge. This version of Edge featured Jason Kao Hwang on violin & compositions, Taylor Ho Bynum on trumpets, Ken Filiano on bass and Andrew Drury on drums. Mr. Hwang is an early member of the downtown scene has been in numerous, diverse projects throughout his two decade career. From Commitment, the Far East Side Band, the C.T. String Quartet, to current trios with The Gift (William Hooker & Roy Campbell) to Trio Tarana (w/ Ravish Momin & Shanir Blumenkranz). Braxton collaborator, Taylor Ho Bynum, is one of the freshest new voices on trumpet and the perfect man to play the challenging music of Jason Hwang's great quartet. The first piece erupts quickly with the violin and cornet swirling quickly around one another, navigating Jason's difficult changes with ease. Former Seattle based drummer, Andrew Drury, is another downtown's under-recognized heroes and plays superbly thoughout the set, his mallet playing especially inventive. Former L.A. contrabass great, Ken Filiano, is also the right man for the job, as he shows he has a variety of interesting ideas and supportive sounds. One piece has each player doing something very different, as Ken plays a deep bass drone, Taylor plays some twisted muted flugel, Jason plucks his strings percussively and Andrew bangs on his cymbals which are placed upon each drum. Sections of this set are closer to modern chamber music than jazz, so many surprises are in-store. A number of these pieces work with splintered rhythms, the quartet is broken in duos that lock in with each other then switch roles. They end the set with an old old downtown piece by Commitment which once included William Parker & Jason Hwang. This piece was filled with haunting harmonies. with the violin and trumpet playing delicately together. It was a prayer-like work and a fine conclusion to an excellent set.
- Bruce Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery Newsletter, July 7, 2006