Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Jon Jang Octet: Island: The Immigrant Suite No. 1

Containing parts two through six of his lengthy Immigrant Suite, Jon Jang’s music addresses the degrading detentions experienced by Chinese at the Bay Area’s Angel Island during 1910-1940, and most poignantly, the music and the singing and recitations by poet Genny Lim (including two originals) concern poems they etched into walls at the facility, and recall the Chinese rail-tie laborers written out of American history. Pianist Jang, like a George Russell, buoys and guides his ensemble vision rather than assuming soloing prominence. Like kindred artists he convincingly blends jazz and traditional Chinese musics and instruments, getting sensitive readings on soprano and English horn by Jim Norton. Yet, be alert to tenorist Francis Wong! With his gritty pungent sound, heard best on his own “Diaspora Tale No. 1” and Jang’s “Second Interlude/Appendix,” he delivers textures of a Frank Wright underpinned by old country melodies. Jang co-founded Asian Improv Records and has collaborated compositionally with James Newton. Definitely a figure for now and beyond!

Originally Published