Half Notes: Jason Kao Hwang and Edge – Crossroads Unseen (2011)

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Composer Jason Kao Hwang, performing on both violin and viola, starts with a foundation of chamber jazz, and then blows it up. Hwang (Reggie Workman, Anthony Braxton, Henry Threadgill) is just as apt to set off an explosion of emotive, Eastern-themed motifs (as on the title track from Crossroads Unseen, issued on Sunday by Euonymus Records), as he is a carpet of primal rumblings (on “The Path Around the House”), as he is a burst of angular, call-and-response ensemble interplay during what turns out to be a fast-paced journey across a varied avant-garde landscape. The surprise is how much emotion can be found on such an intelligent enterprise. Hwang never lets the construction of the song take precedent over his broader storytelling goal. Taylor Ho Bynum is featured on cornet for three tracks, and flugelhorn for two others. Hwang’s group on this project, an involving musical challenge for both the ear and heart, is rounded out by drummer Andrew Drury and bassist Ken Filiano.

‘Half Notes’ are quick-take thoughts on music from Something Else! Reviews, presented whenever the mood strikes us.

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Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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