8 January 2013

Jon Jang - Jang

Following our earlier postings of United Front and George Sams, here is another musician who was to become an important part of the Asian Improv scene, Jon Jang. Of Chinese extraction, his contribution has been one of Americanizing Chinese folk melodies and to make visible the experience of being an immigrant with attachments to two different communities on opposite sides of the Pacific. As such, his work is part of a distinct West Coast scene where the links to the Asian continent are stronger than elsewhere than in the US, with the possible exception of other major towns on the American continent. The Asian Improv scene and record label is a concrete manifestation of a story that deserves wider recognition. The handcuffs on the front cover are symbolic of restrictions on Chinese immigration, in particular the adoption of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882 which was in force until 1943 and only completely repealed in 1965 with the Immigration and Naturalization Act which abolished the old system of national quotas.

This was his debut release on the RPM label which also released both of the United Front records we have posted earlier. The Asian influence may not be as strong as on later releases. What's here is a quite diverse selection of tunes, some live piano solo performances ranging from contemporary classical to standards to spirituals, one is a straight-laced jazz guitar - piano duet and two are really United Front tunes with piano and guitar augmentation. I'm not sure if Jang is even on the opening piece. All in all, a debut release that is very promising, if somewhat lacking in artistic direction.

Jon Jang
RPM Records RPM-3
recorded live, Santa Cruz, CA November 1979*
and studio, San Francisco,  February 1982

Jon Jang, piano
Baird Miller, guitar
Lewis Jordan, alto sax
George Sams, trumpet
Mark Izu, bass
Anthony Brown, percussion

Side A
For sister Deeana  8:10
Two selections from Five Pieces for Piano 5:21*
Lester Leaps Out (Dolphinology) 3:45
Sweet, Sweet Spirit 2:06

Side B
Le Chocard des Alpes from Catalogue d'Oiseaux (Messiaen) 9:29
The Ballad of the Bluebird Boogie  4:09
Goodbye Porkpie Hat/Giant Steps (Mingus/Coltrane)  6:17*

Jon Jang
RPM Records RPM-3
recorded live, Santa Cruz, CA November 1979*
and studio, San Francisco,  February 1982

Thanks to Arcturus for supplying the digital files. I've put in an order for the second release by Jang on RPM, "Are you Chinese or Charlie Chan".  It'll be interesting to see how it compares with this one. As of writing, I've no idea. As far as I know, these records are long out of print and only obtainable on the second hand market.


kinabalu said...



agmosk said...

I really like Jon Jang, especially the larger group sessions. Thanks for this one and, hopefully, the scond one on RPM.

kinabalu said...

I've just received the second RPM and the title track is in fact a large group session. Better than the debut lp in my opinion. I'll have it up here soon.

francisco santos said...

you did not post the RPM album?...was looking and couldn't find...can you do that now?...

P.S. and if possible re post this one 2...
THX again!...