The Jon Jang-Francis Wong Quartet will perform works that feature music of resistance as well as their hybrid treatment of Chinese folk music in a black music context. The quartet is Jang on piano and Wong on sax, with Gary Brown, bass, and Deszon Claiborne, drums.
In celebration of the 30th anniversary of Asian American Improv Arts, which was founded by Francis Wong and Jon Jang, there will be two parts to this event: first the concert, followed by reflections on the past thirty years by Wong and Jang, who will be joined by UC Riverside music professor Deborah Wong, author of Speak It Louder: Asian Americans Making Music.
The concert is supported by the Jazz Journalist Association sponsor North Coast Brewing, the home of Brother Thelonious beer.
Francis Wong Biography
Few musicians are as accomplished as Francis Wong, considered one of “the great saxophonists of his generation” by the late jazz critic Phil Elwood. A prolific recording artist, Wong is featured on more than forty titles as a leader and sideman. For over two decades he has performed his innovative brand of jazz and creative music for audiences in North America, Asia, and Europe with such with such luminaries as Jon Jang, Tatsu Aoki, Genny Lim, William Roper, Bobby Bradford, John Tchicai, James Newton, Joseph Jarman, Don Moye and the late Glenn Horiuchi.
But to simply call the Bay Area native a musician would be to ignore his pioneering leadership in communities throughout Northern California. Wong’s imaginative career straddles roles as varied as performing artist, youth mentor, composer, artistic director, community activist, non-profit organization manager, consultant, music producer, and academic lecturer. Key vehicles for his work are Asian Improv aRts, the company he co-founded with Jon Jang and as a Senior Fellow at the Wildflowers Institute. In addition, Wong was a California Arts Council Artist in Residence from 1992 through 1998, and a Meet The Composer New Resident in 2000-2003. In 2000-2001 he was a Rockefeller Next Generation Leadership Fellow. He has also been a guest member of the faculty at San Francisco State University (1996-98) and at University of California at Santa Cruz (1996-2001).
”I choose for my work to build community and to seek out how I, as an artist can meet the challenges that our community faces. In the Asian American community, the biggest challenge is continuity of culture and the impact of assimilation. Through music, I envision a way to create continuity through the integration of tradition and innovation. franciswong.net
Jon Jang Biography
As an epic composer who writes large scale works, Jon Jang’s works include: The Chinese American Symphony, Tiananmen! , Reparations Now! Concerto for Jazz Ensemble and Taiko, and Island: the Immigrant Suite No. 2 for the Kronos Quartet and co-composed with James Newton When Sorrow Turns to Joy – Songlines: The Spiritual Tributary of Paul Robeson and Mei Lanfang. Jang’s new work, Can’t Stop Cryin’ for America (Black Lives Matter!) will premiere on June 18, 2017 presented by SFJAZZ.
Jon Jang has co-composed, co-led and recorded with artists such as Max Roach, James Newton and David Murray. His ensembles have toured at major concert halls and music festivals in Europe, China, Canada, United States and South Africa.
As a scholar, Jang has taught at Stanford University, University of California at Berkeley and was awarded the Martin Luther King Jr.-Cesar Chavez-Rosa Parks Visiting Professor honor at the University of Michigan. During 2016, Jang presented his lecture, The Sounds of Struggle: Music from the Black Liberation Movement of the 1960s to the Asian American Movement of the 1980s at Columbia University and other colleges on the East Coast. jonjang.com
About Asian Improv Arts
Asian Improv aRts (AIR) was co-founded by Francis Wong and Jon Jang in 1987. AIR has produced over 70 recordings and over a hundred concerts. AIR has also nurtured and supported emerging artists by producing the first and early recordings of MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Award Fellow and Harvard University music professor Vijay Iyer, Miya Masaoka and Jen Shyu. We are proud to celebrate our 30th Anniversary with this event at the Community Music Center where Jon teaches presented by Jazz in the Neighborhood.