Hong Kong Dragon Club: Take Out

Drawing upon notable Chinese session talent to meld traditional Far Eastern melodies and instruments with modern jazz elements, producer K.K. Wong assembled the Hong Kong Dragon Club. The resulting experiment is a diverse and often fascinating collection titled Take Out (Xien Records XNC2 44301; 55:39), which utilizes the unique sounds of instruments like the stringed erhu, the mallet-played and dulcimer-like yangquin, the bamboo-crafted woodwind di and the four-stringed mandolin-like pipa. When well blended and integrated, these tones can create breathtaking effects. For example, the quivering high melody of “Watering Flowers” plays like a distant whistling wind, above a dark string twang and cascading jazzy piano. Likewise a gently swaying blues groove on “Three Gorges of Yang Guan” is populated with haunting lead instruments, adding hesitance and resonance to a compelling melody. In other cases, like the typical “smooth” ballad structured “Beautiful Island,” and pop-funk “Just for Tonight,” the organic instruments appear as afterthought add-ons to New Agey meditations.