Jason Kao Hwang

Burning Bridge

Innova 840



Jason Kao Hwang / Burning Bridge

Jason Kao Hwang – composer, violin

Taylor Ho Bynum - cornet/ flugelhorn

Andrew Drury - drum set

Ken Filiano - string bass

Joseph Daley – tuba

Sun Li - pipa

Steve Swell  - trombone

Wang Guoweierhu



Back Cover


(1) Ashes, Essence  (21:59)

(2) Worship, Whirling  (13:35)

(3) Fiery, Far Away  (10:40)

(4) Incense, In Sense  (16:44)

(5) Ocean, O Sun (15:55)


Total Duration: 78:56



Burning Bridge was composed upon a Burning Bridge. The nature of this music consumes temporal illusions while enveloping the concurrence of life and death. On this Burning Bridge, the tinder of history and culture feed flames that vibrate within the core of both instinct and identity. The fire, often ignored, has always existed, with bridges burning each moment of our ever-changing lives.


Bridges burn between the various traditions of each instrument - Chinese, Jazz and Classical – to forge a single musical voice resonant with distinct cultural overtones. With the poetic complexities inherent to this sound, this music possesses all the attributes of any human being. Burning Bridge is the experience, not the representation.


The macro conditions set by this jazz composition will cultivate many micro discoveries of sound and phrase. Both differences and commonalities between jazz and traditional Chinese musicians will be embraced as bridges burn. At first, the novelty of Chinese sounds will appear graphic, indelible and dominant. For example, when hearing a plucked unison note between the pipa and string bass, the pipa initially dominates. But as the music progresses and bridges burn, spectacle sensations diminish to a sotto voce, and a democracy of sounds emerge and flourish within a vibrant dialogue.


Burning Bridge utilizes the distinct emotional territories produced by the process of notation and improvisation. Each modality possesses a distinct energy that can be either blurred into a single flow or made distinct. The interplay of modalities also offers a compositional dynamic between the jazz musician’s personal voice and the over-arching narrative. With bridges afire, the infinite permutations between improvisation and notation, the individual and collective, are architecturally sequenced to conjure a narrative landscape through which the listener will journey and imagine. While though the sonic physiology is complex, the actual living music is experienced simply.


In 2009, my mother passed away and my reflections upon her life flowed into the music. The opening motif was based upon her speech patterns for a Chinese proverb she had repeated to me many times during my childhood. Another motif is based upon the memory of a hymn we sang in the Presbyterian Church. Later, I learned that my recalled rendering was close to the hymn “Doxology.” I chose to preserve my remembrance.


My first band was called Commitment, a collective quartet of the jazz loft era. In 2010, "Commitment, The Complete Recordings,1981/1983" was released as a double-CD and LP by the Lithuanian label, No Business. This new release includes the 1983 performance of my composition, "Ocean," at the Moers Festival in Germany. For the music and the memories residing therein, I incorporated "Ocean" into the fifth and concluding movement of Burning Bridge.


Burning Bridge sets afire the boundaries of our aesthetic sensibilities, cultural assumptions, instrumental technique and my personal history. Burning Bridge is a meta-language that is both the vehicle and essence of this music.


- Jason Kao Hwang



All compositions by Jason Kao Hwang, © (p) Flying Panda Music, BMI 2011


Recorded February 16 - 18, 2011, at Kaleidoscope Sound, Union City, New Jersey

Executive Producer: Philip Blackburn, Innova Recordings

Producer: Jason Kao Hwang

Recording Engineer: Sal Mormando

Assistant Engineer: Kyle Cassel

Mixing Engineer: Jason Kao Hwang with Ken Filiano

Mastering Engineer: Silas Brown, Legacy Sound

Design: Philip Blackburn

Photography: Scott Friedlander, Jason Kao Hwang


Innova is supported by an endowment from the McKnight Foundation.

Philip Blackburn: director, design

Chris Campbell: operations manager

Steve McPherson: publicity



Photo (back panel)

a) My great-great-great grandfather, Hwang Nan Pao, a high ranking military officer who served the Qing Dynasty during the Taiping Rebellion.

b) My maternal grandmother, Zhao Feizhang.

c) The engagement photo of my parents, Dr. Kao Hwang and Mrs. Sheila Hwang.


Burning Bridge by Jason Kao Hwang has been made possible with support from Chamber Music America’s 2009 New Jazz Works: Commissioning and Ensemble Development program funded through the generosity of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.


Special Thanks:  Gennevieve Lam, Dick Griffin, Chris DiMeglio, Jeanette Vuocolo (Chamber Music America), Deanna Relyea (Edgefest), Tom Kohn (Bop Shop), Michael Orlove (Chicago World Music Festival), Mitch Cocanig (Hideout), Michael Wilpers (Freer Gallery), Patricia Parker (Vision Festival), Jim Staley (Roulette), Heidi and Hy Fenster


For more information:  jasonkaohwang.com



Dedicated in Loving Memory to my Mother

Sheila Hwang 1918-2009