Jason Kao Hwang​/​VOICE (2016)

by Jason Kao Hwang, Thomas Buckner, Deanna Relyea

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This album is a landmark in vibrant, truly synthetic conjunctions of words and musical expressions, of the state-of-the-art in the avant today, with the world, history and time conjoined in two unified suites of great power and merit. It is a blockbuster and a tribute to the imaginative thrust of Jason Kao Hwang and his collaborative associates. - Grego Applegate Edwards, gapplegatemusicreview,

The performing challenges are immense, not only in the extreme virtuosity of the music, but also in having to move from the jagged to the lyrical in the blink of an eye. Jason Kao Hwang yields nothing to previous performers of repertoire such as this in penetrating the depth and breadth of emotion that the poetry conveys, and it helps that this is a fabulous recording, allowing the wide range of tone, colour and dynamics to be heard to full effect. - Raul da Gama, World Music Report

Two ensembles are featured.

I. Lifelines
Music by Jason Kao Hwang?

Poetry: Lester Afflick, Patricia Spears Jones and Davida Singer

?Musicians: Deanna Relyea – voice, Piotr Michalowski – sopranino saxophone/bass clarinet with? EDGE: Taylor Ho Bynum – cornet/flugelhorn, Andrew Drury – drum set, Ken Filiano – string bass, Jason Kao Hwang – violin

1. nocturnal, poem by Davida Singer 7:19
2. vertigo, poem by Davida Singer 4:05?
3. Someone, poem by Lester Afflick 6:51?
4. Days of Awe, poem by Patricia Spears Jones 6:48
5. I Raise Myself, poem by Lester Afflick 8:13

II. Words of Our Own

Music by Jason Kao Hwang?

Poetry: Lester Afflick, Fay Chiang, Steve Dalachinsky, Patricia Spears Jones, Yuko Otomo

Musicians: Thomas Buckner – voice, Joe McPhee – tenor saxophone/pocket trumpet,?William Parker – string bass, Sang Won Park - kayagum/ajeng/voice, Jason Kao Hwang – viola

6. Charles Gayle Trio @ Knitting Factory 7/20/92 (Vattel Cherry – bass, Marc Edwards – drums), poem by Steve Dalachinsky 1:30
7. What You Know, poem by Patricia Spears Jones 2:40
?8. I Dream About You Baby (for C.H.), poem by Lester Afflick 4:14?
9. Father, poem by Fay Chiang 3:01?
10. in the wind there is a presence #2, poem by Steve Dalachinsky 3:44
?11. an excerpt from a rose is a rose (for Bruce Weber), poem by Yuko Otomo 12:16?
12. an excerpt from In Like Paradise/Out Like the Blues, poem by Patricia Spears Jones 3:18
13. Gypsy Prayers, poem by Lester Afflick 6:59


There are voices that speak our thoughts, emotions and needs. They vibrate the air to deliver the contents. We speak and talk. We hear and listen. And there are other kinds of voices that are alive but mostly unheard. Some loud and intense, some soft, almost mute, all saying something that needs to be heard. Although heard by no one yet, they are definitely and clearly there. A poet gives them actual voices using their instrument: words. Poems come alive, when written, to be heard by all, including poets themselves. Every poem speaks a different story, creates a different landscape and brings in a different idea since everybody is unique.

And then, there are musicians and vocalists. They do a similar thing to what poets do. They hear unheard music, alive and well, but not yet shared with anyone. They make music to cause the unheard music to come alive using their voices and instruments, alone and collectively.

VOICE has its own unique history in New York City. First created and premiered as “Words of Our Own” for Larry Ochs’s Words and Music series at the Stone NYC in March 2010, it was later performed again at A Gathering of Tribes in April 2010 and for the Interpretations series at Roulette in January 2012. “Lifelines” came into life soon after inspired by the Roulette performance. Commissioned by Edgefest, it premiered there in November 2012 and again was performed at the Stone, curated by Min Xiao-Fen in December that same year. “Words of Our Own” was recorded in 2012 and “Lifelines” in 2014..VOICE is the resulting creative development of these projects. We all are extremely happy to have our beloved friend, Lester Afflick, who passed away much too young, as an integral part of both sets.

For Lifelines, this was the last recording his EDGE quartet (Jason, Taylor, Andrew & Ken) did before going on hiatus.

Now, the voices, once unheard and impossible to reach, are here with us, welcoming us all to listen to them with open arms. Let us listen to them from every corner of our streets, memories and dreams. Here VOICE speaks to us in the most humble, personal and genuine timbres and tones, as we walk together or alone in this landscape called LIFE.
- Yuko Otomo


released May 5, 2016

All compositions by Jason Kao Hwang © ℗ Flying Panda Music, BMI 2015

Lifelines was commissioned by Kerrytown Concert House/Ann Arbor for Edgefest where it premiered on November 1, 2012. Lifelines was recorded on January 16, 2014 at Kaleidoscope Sound in Union City, NJ.

Words of Our Own was created for Larry Ochs’s Words and Music series at the Stone in New York City, where it premiered on March 28, 2010.

Words of Our Own was recorded on January 14, 2012 and Lifelines on January 16, 2014, at Kaleidoscope Sound in Union City, NJ.

Recording Engineer for Words of Our Own: Sal Mormando
Recording Engineer for Lifelines: Kyle Cassel
Assistant Engineers: (Kaleidoscope will e-mail me)
Mixing Engineer: Jason Kao Hwang
Mastering Engineer: Paul Zinman, SoundByte Productions, Inc.

Innova is supported by and endowment from the McKnight Foundation
Philip Blackburn: director, design
Chris Campbell: operations manager
Steve McPherson: publicity; www.innova.mu

Special thanks: Gennevieve Lam, Marci Goodman, Larry Ochs, Deanna Relyea and Edgefest, Jim Staley and Roulette, Steve Cannon and A Gathering of Tribes.



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Jason Kao Hwang Morris Plains, New Jersey

Jason Kao Hwang (composer/violin/viola) recently released Sing House and VOICE. In 2012, NPR selected Burning Bridge as one of the year’s Top CDS and the Downbeat Critics’ Poll voted him “Rising Star for Violin.” In 2011 and 2012 the El Intruso Critic's poll voted him #1 for Violin/Viola. Mr. Hwang has worked with Pauline Oliveros, Wadada Leo Smith, William Parker, Anthony Braxton, and others. ... more

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