Thursday, November 01, 2007

pod #14

The new issue of Point of Departure is out, with its usual payload of interesting columns. Travellin' Light gives Taylor Ho Bynum another chance to express his well-known and much-appreciated belgophilia (he once boasted of owning "one of the best Belgian jazz CD collections in New York." One of? Who's the competition?):

What are your three favorite venues?

There are a couple of spots I love in Belgium, the deWerf Theater in Brugge, and the deSingel Theater in Antwerp (they let me play on the roof!). I also always enjoy playing outdoors, especially in some of those beautiful European amphitheaters. But my favorite spot is my home away from home, New Haven’s wonderful Firehouse 12.

Taylor will be at deSingel next year, a gig I am very much looking forward to, as I have missed his last few performances here.

In the What's New? roundtable, Jason Hao Kwang gives a very interesting account of how he became concious of his own cultural identity:
I began to understand and therefore, imagine my identity, while touring South Korea with vocalist/choreographer Sin Cha Hong in 1992. This was my first trip to Asia. The experience was startling, both radically familiar and foreign. Though I am of Chinese decent, simply seeing, for the first time, streets bustling with heads of black hair was an inexplicable déjà vu. I remember witnessing myself in the dance mirrors of the Samul Nori studios, rehearsing with Korean musicians and dancers. The body language, smiles and laughter all seemed familiar. Being American-born Chinese, this was the first time an environment appeared to reflect at least some aspect of my being. At the same time, very few people in the project spoke much English. Also, I couldn’t read Korean. Paradoxically, I could not participate socially in all that looked so familiar. The inability to communicate is perhaps the ultimate foreign experience. Music was our only language.

I returned to the States with a new understanding of how much I had in common with my parents, who came from China in the 1940s. I sound like my father when I laugh or sneeze! Looking back, I also recognized how I responded to various life events emotionally, like one or both my parents. It is this mass of “micro-learning” ingrained into my personality, not Asian scholarship, that defines my cultural self. These realizations generated insights about the shape, sound and phrase of my violin improvisations and compositions. In my sound was evidence of who I am.

What defines “non-Western” is complex and nuanced, far beyond simple markers of musicology, like the pentatonic scale.