Episodes:

Photographs by Scott Friedlander ©2013. Used with permission.

Jason Kao Hwang’s EDGE Ensemble:
Burning Bridge

Delve into the raucous, funky world of Jason Hwang’s eight-piece band and their rowdy, collective improvisations that invoke the legacies of New Orleans jazz, Ornette Coleman, and Charles Mingus. He is joined by a deep brass section with Taylor Ho Bynum on cornet and flugelhorn, Joe Daley on tuba, and Steve Swell on trombone, plus Ken Filiano on bass, Andrew Drury on drums, Wang Guowei on erhu (Chinese fiddle), and Sun Li on pipa (Chinese lute). This concert was presented in 2010 in conjunction with the exhibition Fiona Tan: Rise and Fall.

View more about this podcast »

Photo courtesy of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture.

New Sounds from Arab Lands

Relax to mellow, Arab-inspired jazz by five accomplished performer-composers from Syria and Tunisia and featuring clarinetist Kinan Azmeh, who earned a Grammy Award with the Silkroad Ensemble for their 2017 CD Sing Me Home. This innovative quintet creates new music inspired by Middle Eastern traditions with influences from jazz and Western classical music, blending composition with improvisation in vibrant ways. Kinan Azmeh is joined by Basel Rajoub on tenor saxophone, Jasser Haj Youssef on violin and viola d’amore, Feras Charestan on qanun, and Khaled Yassine on percussion. The New Sounds project was developed by the Aga Khan Music Initiative, a program of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, and presented at the Freer Gallery in 2013.

View more about this podcast »

Asian American Jazz Pioneers:
The Far East Side Band

Journey to a unique soundscape that blends contemporary jazz with East Asian instruments and styles, all performed by this path-breaking ensemble of the late 1990s. Composer, and violinist Jason Kao Hwang subsequently earned best-of-the-year listings in Downbeat, Jazz Times, Jazziz, and All About Jazz. His chamber opera, The Floating Box, A Story in Chinatown, was named among the top ten recordings of 2005 by Opera News. This early experimental quartet also features multi-percussionist Satoshi Takeishi, jazz tuba artist Joseph Daley, and Sang-Won Park on Korean zithers (kayagum and ajaeng). The notes include essays on Asian American jazz and Jason Hwang’s new introduction. Their performance took place at the Freer Gallery of Art in 1999.

View more about this podcast »

Kadri Gopalnath in performance at Le Guess Who? (Netherlands) in 2018 (photo leguesswho.nl)

Saxophone Summit: Kadri Gopalnath and Rudresh Mahanthappa

Kadri Gopalnath and Rudresh Mahanthappa, two leading artists from American jazz and Indian classical music, combine their prodigious talents in this one-of-a-kind collaboration. They are backed up by an all-star lineup of guitarist Rez Abbasi, violinist A. Kanyakumari, drummers Royal Hartigan and Poovalur Sriji, and bassist Carlo de Rosa.

View more about this podcast »
Simon Shaheen performing on the Arab lute.

Enjoy an invigorating blend of music from the worlds of jazz, Latin, and Arab traditions. Joining composer, violinist, and ‘ud (Arab lute) virtuoso Simon Shaheen is a genre-crossing ensemble on ney (Arab flute), qanun (Arab zither), guitar, violin, cello, and percussion. Recorded live in concert at the Freer|Sackler on June 23, 2018.

Arab-Latin-Jazz Fusions: Simon Shaheen and Qantara

Enjoy an invigorating blend of music from the worlds of jazz, Latin, and Arab traditions. Joining composer, violinist, and ‘ud (Arab lute) virtuoso Simon Shaheen is a genre-crossing ensemble on ney (Arab flute), qanun (Arab zither), guitar, violin, cello, and percussion. Recorded live in concert at the Freer|Sackler on June 23, 2018.

View more about this podcast »

The Tarek Yamani Trio performed at the Freer Gallery on December 6, 2014. Left to right are Tarek Yamani (piano), Petros Klampanis (bass), and Evan Sherman (drums). The trio performed jazz standards along with Tarek’s original jazz arrangements of classic Arab songs from the 1950s.

A Jazz Take on Classic Arab Song: Tarek Yamani Trio

Take a jazz journey to the Arab world of the 1950s with Lebanese pianist Tarek Yamani and his original arrangements of music from the classic era of Arab songs. The Beirut-born Yamani is joined by bassist Petros Klampanis and drummer Evan Sherman. Yamani breathes invigorating new life into songs made wildly popular by such singers as Uum Kulthum and composers Sayyid Darwīsh and Mohammad al-Maslūb and their orchestras. Winner of the Thelonius Monk Competition in 2010, Yamani created the annual music initiative Beirut Speaks Jazz in 2013 and has performed at the United Nations and in clubs across New York City.

This concert was originally performed at the Meyer Auditorium on December 6, 2014.

View more about this podcast »

The full ensemble heard on this podcast includes (left to right) Basel Rajoub, tenor saxophone; Kenan Adnawi, ‘ud; Naghib Shanbehzadeh, percussion; and Saeid Shanbehzadeh, Persian bagpipe. (Photo by Scott Friedlander © 2014, used with permission.)

Sound: The Encounter: Jazz from Iran and Syria

Four jazz-oriented artists from the Middle East merge the musical traditions for Persian and Arab bagpipe, double clarinet, lute, and drums along with the Western saxophone. Together they forge new sounds that transport ancient melodies into modern idioms. This performance was recorded live in concert at the Freer Gallery on December 12, 2013, and was presented in cooperation with the Aga Khan Music Initiative.

View more about this podcast »

The Arirang of Tori: A Korean and American Jazz Collaboration

Hear Korea’s most beloved folksong, “Arirang,” interpreted by seven leading improvisers from Korea and New York. Led by Heo Yoon-jeong on zithers and Ned Rothenberg on reeds, the Tori Project treats five regional styles of “Arirang” to a compelling array of variations and extrapolations. This concert was recorded at the Freer|Sackler on December 8, 2011.

View more about this podcast »

Iraqi Jazz Fusions: Amir ElSaffar’s Two Rivers

Iraqi-American jazz artist Amir ElSaffar leads this cross-cultural quintet in a live concert rendition of Two Rivers, an original multi-movement work inspired by the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, the current strife in Iraq, and the common ground between American jazz and Iraqi classical music. ElSaffar sets the modes of Arab music to innovative grooves, free ensemble playing, and multilayered sound textures, resulting in a work that the BBC praises as “harrowing to absorb, full of as much beauty as pain.” He performs on trumpet, santur, and vocals, along with Rudresh Mahanthappa, saxophone; Nasheet Waits, drums; Carlo De Rosa, bass; and Jason Adasiewicz, vibraphone. This concert was made possible, in part, with support from the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, Georgetown University, and was recorded in concert in the Freer Gallery’s Meyer Auditorium on February 7, 2009.

View more about this podcast »

A Korean and American Jazz Excursion: Five Directions

Six boundary-breaking musicians from Korea and the United States join forces for this cross-cultural jazz collaboration evoking the origins of the universe, the cosmic balance of yin and yang, and the five elements of creation. Three leading lights of the New York improv scene–Ned Rothenberg (clarinet, saxophone, and shakuhachi), Erik Friedlander (cello), and Satoshi Takeishi (percussion)–are joined by three Korean musicians–Yoon Jeong Heo (geomungo/zither), Kwon Soon Kang (vocal), and Young Chi Min (daegum/flute and janggo/drum) –for this unique experiment that blends free jazz and traditional Korean music.

This concert took place in the Freer Gallery’s Meyer Auditorium on December 9, 2008.

View more about this podcast »