Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Asian American Jazz

Asian American jazz is a genre of jazz that arose in the late 20th century in the United States. Asian American jazz is often characterized as a hybrid music based off African American jazz with Asian influences. Prominent Asian American jazz artist, Fred Ho, characterize his music as “imbued with the traditions of Asia, Africa, and their respective diasporic hybrid forms”[1]. One trait that sets Asian American jazz apart is that Asian instruments can often be heard playing along with standard jazz instrumention. In the beginning of the movement, most artists were either Japanese or Chinese. However, there are now more Asian American musicians from different ethnicities including: Filipino(Susie Ibarra and Gabe Balthazar), Indian (Vijay Iyer), and Iranian (Hafez Modirzadeh).

The San Francisco Asian American Jazz Festival(1981-2006) was a long running and important part to the development of the Asian American jazz movement. However, this festival is no longer held and is now replaced by the Chicago Asian American Jazz Festival. The goals of the Chicago Asian American Jazz Festival are to: present the best in contemporary Asian American music, featuring a roster of internationally renowned artists from across the country whose works helps to define what is Asian American music.[2]

Another important aspect that led the development of Asian American jazz movement was the formation of record labels. Francis Wong and Jon Jang founded one of the first labels to cater to Asian-American artists, Asian Improv Records. Based in San Francisco this record label was formed in 1987. However, Asian Improv Records no longer function as a record label anymore. It is now carried on as Asian Improv aRts an organization which plays a heavy role in holding the Chicago Asian American Jazz Festival [3]. Another Asian American record label was AArising. However, like Asian Improv Records, AArising is no longer an active record label. AArising now serves as a non-profit web resource about Asian Pacific Americans in the entertainment world[4].

Important active artists this genre include: Tatsu Aoki, Hiroshima, Asian Future, Fred Ho, Glenn Horiuchi, Vijay Iyer, Jon Jang, and Francis Wong[5]. Hiroshima is one of the longest running Asian American jazz bands. The band was formed in 1974 and is still active. Hiroshima released their latest album, “Little Tokyo” in 2007.

Musicians associated with the Asian American jazz movement[6]

* Gabe Baltazar
* Anthony Brown (musician)
* Jeff Chan
* Jiebing Chen
* Bobby Enriquez
* Gene Ess
* Hiroshima
* Fred Ho
* Glenn Horiuchi
* Jason Kao Hwang
* Susie Ibarra
* Vijay Iyer
* Mark Izu
* Jon Jang
* Jin Hi Kim
* Robbie Kwock
* Liu Qi-Chao
* Lee Pui Ming (based in Canada)
* Melecio Magdaluyo
* Miya Masaoka
* Hafez Modirzadeh
* Meg Okura
* Gerald Oshita
* Jordan White
* Francis Wong

[1] http://www.asianwisconzine.com/0808FredHo.html
[2] http://www.aajazz.org/
[3] http://www.asianimprov.org/about.htm
[4] http://www.aboutus.org/AArising.com
[5] http://www-personal.umich.edu/~akstill/CyberGuides/AsAm_CyberGuide/jazz.htm
[6] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asian_American_jazz

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