Crossroads Unseen by Jason Kao Hwang/EDGE
Review by Glenn Astarita
jazzreview.com, Nov. 1, 2011
The band's third album offers a persuasive glimpse into how violinist Jason Kao Hwang fuses the East-West musical contingent into a cohesive pedigree of sound designs and cutting-edge applications that circumvent the norm, even by avant-garde paradigms. The album strikes a captivating balance between structure that is often complex but largely fluid, and free expressionism of numerable shapes and hues. Regardless, Hwang aligns himself with a super-tight ensemble. And they exude a synergistic group dynamic throughout the sum of the briskly moving parts.
Indeed, drummer Andrew Drury and bassist Ken Filiano comprise a powerhouse rhythm section, but are also adept at instilling texture and nuance to help pace the buoyant flows. With Hwang alternating on viola, and estimable trumpeter Taylor Ho Bynum playing a cornet on three pieces, the duo effortlessly glides through bristling unison choruses and sonorous melodic intervals. Hwang, for example, is a multidimensional instrumentalist who bridges the gap between Asian influences, hardcore jazz metrics and multicultural foundations, equating to a rather holistic focus.
The final piece "One Day," offers a composite view of the ensemble's aura. Engineered upon budding parts and multifarious pulses, the trajectory spans a linear approach, often shifted into loose improvisation segments and impressionistic portraitures. Bynum's pensive cornet lines are accented by Drury's darting rim-shots and a cascading effect, dappled with opposing currents and a corrugated path to a dark void, accelerated by Hwang and Drury's undulating duet passage. At times mesmeric, introspective or aggressive, the musical vistas breed lucid imagery from an abundance of ebbs, flows and disparate angles. It's music for the mind, boosted by a highly sustainable form of entertainment.
- Glen Astarita, Jazz Review, November 1, 2011