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World Music CD Reviews Jazz

Jason Kao Hwang

By Matt Cibula
Published March 20, 2007

Asian Improv

Unlike most avant-jazz albums, this record from violinist Hwang is through-composed, taut, and swinging. It’s a direct function of Hwang knowing exactly where he wants to go at every moment, while still managing to make everything sound vital and immediate. His crack band don’t hurt matters either: Andrew Drury lays down polyrhythms on all kinds of percussive instruments, bassist Ken Filiano creates crazy tension by switching from bowing to plucking at any moment; and Taylor Ho Bynum is just as comfortable providing support on his cornet and flugelhorn as he is with barn-burning solos like the one he pulls out on “No Myth.” Hwang himself is no slouch as a soloist—every track finds him dive-bombing spiky runs and then waxing lyrical--but he seems to work too hard to show off his compositions, which are admittedly pretty damned amazing. A little less mustard next time, perhaps?