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.

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Photos by Witjak Widhi Cahya

Komungo Muse and Permutations:
Jin Hi Kim

Experience a uniquely Korean approach to music through original works for the classical Korean komungo (zither) that utilize interactive computer audio to create entirely new worlds of sound based on Korean aesthetics. Kim has appeared as a soloist at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, and her works have been performed by the Kronos Quartet and the American Composers Orchestra. In the words of the Washington Post, her “unique vision blends . . . state-of-the-art technology, ancient mythology, and timeless music and dance traditions” and her works “cut across barriers of language, culture, and tradition, touch us at deep, irrational levels [and] result in a work that speaks to our common humanity.” This performance was recorded live in concert at the Freer Gallery of Art on January 21, 2000.

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The Momenta Quartet originally assembled a version ofthe program, “Modern Awakenings: New Music Inspired by Buddhism,” at the request of the Rubin Museum of Art (New York), which specializes in Tibetan Buddhist and other Himalayan art. The Quartet’s members are (left to right) Emilie-Anne Gendron, violin; Adda Kridler, violin; Stephanie Griffin, viola; and Michael Haas, cello.

Modern Awakenings: New Music Inspired by Buddhism

Composers from Malaysia, Japan, China, and the United States explore aspects of Buddhism through music written for string quartet. Formed in 2004, the adventuresome Momenta Quartet has performed often in New York at BargeMusic, Tonic, Le Poisson Rouge, The Stone, Roulette, and Symphony Space. It also serves as the quartet-in-residence at Temple University. This concert was recorded as part of the Meyer Concert Series at the Freer Gallery of Art on November 8, 2012.

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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.

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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.

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Portrait of Hwang Byungki: New and Traditional Music for Korean Instruments

Hwang Byungki is Korea’s acclaimed master of the classical kayagum, an ancient ancestor of the Japanese koto. His six-member ensemble performs traditional music and original works by Hwang on kayagum, taegum (flute), komungo (zither), and changgu (hour-glass drum). Hwang Byungki has toured internationally for more than forty years. In 1990, he led an ensemble to North Korea to perform in a landmark concert advocating the reunification of Korea.
This concert was made possible, in part, by the Korea Society and the Korea Foundation. Recorded live on June 5, 2007, Meyer Auditorium, Freer Gallery of Art.

Sounds of the Night (0:00-11:30)
Soyop Sanbang (11:53-22:10)
Moon of My Hometown (22:36-27:02)
Kayagum sanjo (27:25-46:02)
Harimsong (46:40-54:20)
Ch’imhyangmu (Dance of Aloe Perfume) (54:43-1:08:50)

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