ASIAN IMPROV 0067
By Jon Andrews, Downbeat, August 31, 2006
Violinist Jason Kao Hwang's earlier projects, like the under-appreciated Far East Side Band, balanced Asian influences with jazz and other improvisational elements. The quartet on Edge favors the jazz/improv end of the spectrum. Hwang constructs frameworks for improvisation, establishing themes and opportunities for solos and group interplay. Tracks like "Threads" allow Hwang to mix and match, using various combinations of violin, bass and flugelhorn with Andrew Drury's drums. The Eastern influence is most evident on this track, and can be heard in Drury's rhythms and in the use of open space and drones reminiscent of Tuvan throat-singing. Like "Threads," "Parallel Meditations" builds intensity and features Hwang's penetrating tone in solos and duets with bassist Ken Filiano.
The album title could easily refer to the incisive sound of Hwang's violin. He also demonstrates a mournful, vocal cry on "No Myth" and bittersweet lyricism on "Grassy Hills." Taylor Ho Bynum's work on cornet complements the violin effectively, contrasting Hwang's sharp long tones with the cornet's muted sound and shorter phrases.
- Jon Andrews, Downbeat, August 31, 2006