Alan Chan is on the cutting edge of greatness!
Brent Black / www.criticaljazz.com
Jazz orchestra has been making a comeback as of late with more inventive arrangements, eclectic instrumentation and thematic development that is slightly left of center. The more traditional if not predictable idea of big band or jazz orchestra has achieved a natural evolution of colors and textures that are challenging and allow both the musicians and listeners to observe the movement of traditional structure by less than traditional means.
While growing up in Hong Kong, Chinese music was less than prevalent thanks to British rule and jazz was equally as rare. Chan's unique vision for the large ensemble he currently leads can be traced back to classical and Chinese folk music. The musical journey of Shrimp Tale is one of open-ended stories developing organically while utilizing a rich harmonic color pallet seeming unconventional for the musical base line of exposure that makes up Chan's harmonic DNA. One of the more intriguing pieces would be incorporating the spoken word performance of Lauren Marks, a young brain aneurysm victim who tells her story. Discussing the debut work of any artist can at times be a daunting task thanks to a limited frame of reference. Shrimp Tale needs no such reference as this program of music recalls Chan's life as a student in Miami. The music here is as vibrant and diverse as the culture in South Florida, the addition of Chan's personal cultural background only enhances a tonality long missing from the traditional jazz orchestra sound. There is no ebb and flow here. The magic and unpredictability found in Shrimp Tale is to free your mind and expect the unexpected.
Inspired and inspiring, Alan Chan digs deep within himself to create music that transcends traditional genre and the self imposed limitations thrust upon artists by the music industry and critics alike. A magnificent beginning to what should well be a long and storied career.
Tracks: Tsu Zu Ku; Shrimp Tale; A Spirit's Dream; Moving To A New Capital; Monte Alban; Solita; Rene's Barcarolle; Rancho Calaveras.
Personnel: Composer / Leader Alan Chan
Saxes: Kevin Garren, Alex Budman, Tom Luer, Jeff Driskill (2,3,5); Vince Trombetta (1,4 6-8), Ken Fisher. Trumpets: Wayne Bergeron (Guest Soloist 2), Rob Schaer, Rick Baptist, Tony Bonsera, Michael Stever; Trombones: Andy Martin (1,4 6-8), Charlie Morillas, Dave Ryan (2,3,5); Paul Young, Steve Hughes. Guitar / Banjo Andrew Synowiec; Piano: Andy Langham. Bass: David Hughes. Drums: Jamey Tate. Narrator: Lauren Marks (4,5). Children's Chorus: Darla Driskill, Zane Driskill (8).