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All Music Guide:
Violinist/violist Jason Kao Hwang is involved in creative improvised contemporary music based on jazz, classical, and world music elements. He was born in New York City in 1957, not formally trained in traditional Asian music as an American born citizen of Chinese descent, but he has listened to it extensively. In the '70s he was part of the New York loft scene, a think tank for progressive innovators and improvisers. A member of the writer's wing of the Basement Workshop, an historic Asian-American arts conclave in New York City's Chinatown. Some of the musicians to spring from this collective were Gerald Oshita, Fred Houn, Miya Masaoka, Francis Wong, Jon Jang, and Mark Izu. Hwang was inspired by the creative improvisers of the day -- Henry Threadgill, Borah Bergman, Butch Morris, Reggie Workman, and Ken McIntyre. Hwang became known initially for fronting the Far East Side Band from 1990-2004, featuring Sang-Won Park, Joe Dailey, Satoshi Takeishi, and Yukio Tsuji, combining exotic instruments such as the taiko, kayagum, tuba, and his violin, issuing two CDs on the Victor and New World labels, and touring worldwide, including Beijing, China. He performed and co-arranged music for the original stage production of the Tony-award winning M Butterfly. Hwang also led a trio, documenting music for the Sound Aspects and Flying Panda labels. His scores were commissioned by the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company, a composition "Flight of Whispers" was underwritten and performed as Music for Homemade Instruments for CRI Records on a compilation recording of Chinese-American composers, and he wrote the chamber opera The Floating Box: A Story in Chinatown. He has received numerous grants from Meet the Composer, the National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council of the Arts, New Jersey State Council of the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Greenwall and Puffin Foundations, the American Music Center, and the Fund for U.S. Artists at International Festivals and Exhibitions. In his role as an educator, Hwang has taught at several grade levels including founding adult classes in Asian-American Music at New York University, and lecturing at Westminster and Brooklyn Colleges. High school students at the Museum of Chinese in the Americas benefited in his instruction of music, oral histories and poems from 2002 through 2005, and he conducted workshops with Young Audiences/New York for elementary school students and teachers in composition and improvised music. As an accompanist, Hwang has worked with Anthony Braxton, Henry Threadgill, Ken McIntyre, Butch Morris, Reggie Workman, Vladimir Tarasov, Tatsu Aoki, William Parker, Sirone, William Hooker, and Pheeroan akLaff. His group Edge is a collective ensemble featuring Andrew Drury, Taylor Ho Bynum, and Ken Filiano, and they have recorded for the Asian Improv and Innova labels.
Jason Kao Hwang (born 1957 in Waukegan, Illinois) is a Chinese American violinist and composer.
A versatile performer, Hwang focuses primarily on jazz and improvised musics, and has a particular interest in cross-cultural projects. He has been associated with the Asian American jazz movement and has performed (on violin, electric violin, and electronics) with Anthony Braxton, David Murray, Pauline Oliveros and the Deep Listening Band, Butch Morris, William Parker, Fred Hopkins, Milford Graves, Billy Bang, Ushio Torikai, Henry Threadgill, Reggie Workman, Diedre Murray, Leroy Jenkins, and Makanda Ken McIntyre.
Hwang is a founding member of The Far East Side Band, an intercultural ensemble combining Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and American musical elements. He has composed the scores for numerous films and has also worked in the field of commercial music. He was in the original cast of the Broadway production of M. Butterfly, performing music he co-arranged for that production; he later toured with the national productions as a music director.
Hwang has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, The New York State Council on the Arts, the Greenwall Foundation, the Manhattan Community Arts Fund, and the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust for his opera Immigrant of the Womb.
His chamber opera The Floating Box: A Story in Chinatown premiered in 2001.
Mr. Hwang has recorded for the Axiom, Celluloid, Columbia, Enja, FMP, New World, Victo, and Asian Improv labels.