The Far East Side Band

In the past, Asian music and jazz were dominated by “Oriental” flourishes that jazzers used to exoticize their compositions. Over the past decade, an active group made up of Asian-Americans such as Fred Ho, Jon Jang and Glenn Horiuchi has created a flurry of activity exploring the native musics of Asia through jazz arrangement and improvisation. Hwang, a second generation Chinese-American, was born in Waukegan and raised there. The Far East Side Band’s name is a play on the New York location of the group and the distant ancestry that all except one of its members have. The ensemble was formed in 1992 as a three-piece. Hwang plays the violin and Yukio Tsuji, a pan-Asian-born percussionist from Japan, plays alongside Sang-Won Park’s Korean instruments. Park plays the kayagum, a 12-string plucked zither that resembles a koto, and the ajang, which is a 7-string zither with a rosined wood stick to make almost vocal sounds. Park is a rare bird. He is both a master of Korean traditional music, and an open-minded individual who enjoys spontaneous improvisation. Caverns (New World), the group’s first album, established a working system: Hwang’s sectional compositions feature a range of Asian timbres and textures in unison charts, extended solo and ensembleimprovisations. The second record, Urban Archeology(Victo) is by Joe Daley, a tuba player and not the Chicago reedist. It has a richer bottom to offset the bright sonorities from Tsuji‚Äôs splashy gongs u0026 cymbals as well as the delicate shakuhachi. Hwang’s electric violin is a whiny sound which I don’t like about the leader’s fiddling. from www.chicagoreader.com

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