On their latest bold, chaotic avant-garde jazz adventure, inventive violinist and critical darling Jason Kao Hwang’s Burning Bridge is out for Blood, literally and figuratively, conveying the inner and outer chaos of war with an otherworldly, purposefully melody and traditional rhythm scheme averse fusion of Western jazz sounds and sparks of traditional Chinese music from the eight piece ensemble leader’s home culture.
The backstory is fascinating as Jason explains it, meditating on the emotional traumas of war retained through the body as unspoken vibrations that reverberate throughout communities and across generation. His decision to boldly reflect multiple shades of violence through 48 minutes of ongoing musical chaos (or at least noise created by everything from cornet, flugelhorn and tuba to pipa, trombone and erhu) is rooted in his reflections of his mother’s harrowing experiences in China during WWII, where she was knocked unconscious by a Japanese bomb. He also thought about the Vietnam experiences of some of his musical cohorts.
Where most artists would create some sort of tuneful resolution, Burning Bridge remains resolute throughout that human violence and its lingering effects never abate or find harmonic purpose. Blood is definitely an odd listen, but for those who seek to connect the constantly moving elements, Scott Currie’s brilliant liner notes provide a fascinating guideline to the journey into the heart of darkness.