Graphic Evidence



  1. To the Endless Embrace of Light (f/ Wu Man)
  2. Invocation and Resonance
  3. Microscopic
  4. Blood Falling Out-of-Bounds
  5. Door Beneath an Arch
  6. Transparent Tapestry
  7. Alluvial Fan (f/ Wu Man)
  8. Before Memory Begins

Asian Improv Records AIR0066

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Album Description, Editorial Review

Kurt Gottschalk, All About Jazz
Violinist Jason Kao Hwang has sought to meld American jazz and blues with motifs from the Far East for years, most notably on his excellent 1990 release Unfolding Stone (Sound Aspects). Now, with a group all of Asian descent, Hwang has entered a more fully Asiatic idiom, leaving the particularly American vocabularies behind for something more universal.

The trio is comprised of Western instruments--Francis Wong plays soprano saxophone and Tatsu Aoki upright bass--but it's also supplemented by the talented Wu Man on pipa, a Chinese stringed instrument that's similar to a lute. Without a percussionist, the group yields a graceful, delicate sound that surprises at times with quiet suggestions and phantom voices. Wong in particular plays so slowly and softly that he dissolves into the group, giving the feeling of an ethereal string ensemble.

At times these musicians break out of the evocative mist, as on the bluesy "Blood Falling Out-of-Bounds," anchored by a simple, metric riff by Aoki, who has worked extensively with Chicago's AACM in recent years. But when these players are at their best, they float past, as if they didn't know anyone was listening.

Rex Butters, All About Jazz
A member of the Anthony Braxton Sextet and the Reggie Workman Ensemble, as well as a performer with Pauline Oliveros and the Deep Listening Band, William Parker, Sirone and Billy Bang, Jason Kao Hwang brings his well-traveled violin to Graphic Evidence, a collaborative performance with soprano saxophonist Frances Wong and bassist Tatsu Aoki. On this perfect disc for a wintera's day, the ensemble uses space as a fourth member, producing music of understatement and openness.

"To The Endless Embrace of Light" adds Wu Mana's pipa, a stringed instrument similar in timbre to the shamisen, to the trio. Aoki provides the structure while Wong (on soprano) and Hwang bump the ceiling; Mana's papery pipa helps Aoki convey structure. Wong sings sweetly on "Invocation and Resonance," boiling over with Hwang's urgings. Aoki plays percussively on "Microscopic." Wong indulges in shapely phrased melody, as Hwang flies high, wispily swinging from the top of the scale.

Hwanga's raw, falling blue wail on "Blood Falling Out-of-Bounds" recalls Billy Banga's meeting with William Parker on Scrapbook (Thirsty Ear, 2003). An elegant Wong intro opens "Door Beneath an Arch," setting Aokia's propulsive bassline in motion. Wong rides along, bending and melting, yielding to Aokia's indomitable pizzicato. Hwang and Wong spin ideas off each other as the bassist sticks to the program.

"Transparent Tapestry" plays a wind chimea's song in harmonics. Aoki digs in for some rumbling arco; Hwang and Wong keen a high ending in whispers. Wu Man returns for "Alluvial Fan," this time taking part in the improvisational fun. Aoki holds to an imaginative bassline while the three instrumentalists head in all directions. Each musician maintains a barely audible presence on "Before Memory Begins." Wong blows mostly tuneless wind, with Hwang and Aoki gently tapping and plucking with a frequency that heightens the drama.

Graphic Evidence presents a trio of improvisers confident enough in their art to share tracks with graceful silence, coloring the canvas with disciplined intensity.

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