Asian Improv to Celebrate 25th Anniversary at Yoshi’s SF

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Jon Jang (piano) with Tatsu Aoki (bass), Deszon Claiborne (drums) and Francis Wong (saxophone). (Photo by J. Astra Brinkmann)

SAN FRANCISCO — Asian Improv aRts will hold its 25th anniversary celebration on Sunday, Oct. 28, at Yoshi’s San Francisco.

The event will begin with a 7 p.m. program and awards ceremony followed by an 8 p.m. performance by composer/pianist and Asian Improv aRts co-founder Jon Jang and his ensemble Unbound Chinatown.

Yoshi’s, San Francisco’s destination spot for live music and fine dining, is located at 1330 Fillmore St. (near Eddy). Admission is $18 in advance, $20 at the door.

To buy tickets: http://sfyoshis2.inticketing.com/evinfo.php?eventid=254057

Venue information: http://www.yoshis.com/sanfrancisco

More information: www.asianimprov.org, [email protected], (415) 816-9376

The program will highlight the accomplishments of Asian Improv aRts as it enters its 25th year of producing high-quality arts and cultural events in the San Francisco Bay Area in community-based and major venues in pursuit of its mission to produce, present and document artistic works that represent the Asian American experience.

As a special focus, Asian Improv aRts will pay recognition to composer/instrumentalist Wayne Wallace, Kularts Artistic and Executive Director Alleluia Panis, and Lucy Lin, interim director of the Cultural Equity Grants of the San Francisco Arts Commission.

Wallace has made invaluable contributions to our musical community and has been a tremendous mentor and collaborator with Asian Improv aRts for more than 20 years, beginning with his participation in Jang’s 1990 landmark collaborative work with Max Roach — “SenseUS: the Rainbow Anthems.”

Panis is the driving force behind Kulintang Arts Inc. (Kularts) and a respected elder artist in the U.S. and the Philippines who is at home in both Pilipino tribal and traditional arts and American contemporary forms.

Lin will accept Asian Improv’s award on behalf of Cultural Equity Grants, which has provided critical assistance to so many of Asian Improv aRts’ brother and sister organizations in the community in realizing San Francisco’s celebrated cultural diversity.

According to Asian Improv aRts co-founder and creative director Francis Wong, “We are hoping to use the opportunity of our 25th year celebration to thank these individuals not only for what they have done for us, but for what they stand for in our community.”

The performance by Jang and Unbound Chinatown will treat the audience to the broad palette on Jang’s musical language and the outstanding artistry of his collaborators. The personnel will include Jang, composer, pianist, and bandleader; Jim Norton, woodwinds; Gary Brown, bass; Deszon X. Claiborne, multiple percussion; and New York pipa virtuoso and vocalist Min Xiao-Fen.

Joining the ensemble as special guests to perform two of Jang’s major commissioned works will be Wong, woodwinds; Tatsu Aoki, shamisen and taiko; Melody Takata, taiko; Wallace, trombone; Melecio Magdaluyo, woodwinds; and John Worley Jr., trumpet.

An excerpt of the landmark large ensemble work “Reparations Now!” will be performed. It was one of the compositions that premiered at Asian Improv Records’ historic launch concert at the Upstairs at Eulipia club in San Jose in August 1987.

Completing the program will be Jang’s 2011 work commissioned by the Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco, “Portrait of Sun Yat-sen,” which celebrated the centennial year of the Xinhai Revolution, which ended centuries of dynastic rule in China and ushered in an era of democracy.

About Jon Jang

Jang gives a musical voice to a history that has been silent. A majority of his works represents a chronology of Chinese American history in San Francisco. Commissioned by the Sacramento Philharmonic Orchestra and Oakland East Bay Symphony, Jang composed “The Chinese American Symphony,” a work that pays tribute to the Chinese who built the first transcontinental railroad in United States. The work premiered in 2007 in Sacramento and in 2008 in Oakland.

Other works include “Central Pacific, Central Subway” (2012), “Angel Voices” (2010), “Unbound Chinatown” (2007), “Paper Son, Paper Songs” (2006) “Island: the Immigrant Suite No. 2 for the Kronos Quartet and Cantonese Opera Singer” (1995), inspired by the poetry of Chinese immigrants who were detained at Angel Island Immigration Station in San Francisco Bay during 1910-40; the score for the dramatic adaptation of Maxine Hong Kingston’s “The Woman Warrior” (1994), and “When Sorrow Turns to Joy: A Musical Tribute to Paul Robeson (2002), inspired by Robeson’s collaboration with a Chinese choir in 1941.

Jang has recorded with Roach, James Newton and David Murray. His ensembles have toured at major concert halls and music festivals in China, South Africa, Europe, Canada and the United States. In 2001, he toured Max Roach as part of a trio in Zurich, Berlin, Milan and the Royal Festival Hall in London.

Jang received a mid-career visionary artist award from the Ford Foundation in 2006. He joined Bernice Johnson Reagon as two of four visiting fellows at Stanford University in 2007 as part of the Stanford Institute for Diversity in the Arts. He has received commissions and grants from Creative Work Fund (1999, 2006), San Francisco Arts Commission (1995, 1998, 2002, 2006), Meet the Composer New Residences (2000-2003), Chanticleer (1999), the Library of Congress (1999), Rockefeller MAP Fund (1997, 2002), Creative Capital (2000-2003), Meet the Composer (1995), Kronos Quartet (1995) and National Endowment for the Arts (jazz composition fellowship) (1995).

About Asian Improv aRts

Asian Improv aRts’ goals are:

1) To make it possible for artists to create innovative works that are rooted in the diasporic experiences of Asian and Pacific Islander heritage.

2) To engage a next generation of community members in the arts through arts education.

3) To enable sustainability for artists and arts organizations in a challenging economic environment.

4) To facilitate creative collaborations that bring together major institutions, artists, and multigenerational audiences and participants.

As a non-profit multidisciplinary arts presenter, it has produced high arts and cultural events in venues as Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Great American Music Hall, and Zellerbach Playhouse (Cal Performances) as well as venues outside the Bay Area, including the Museum of Contemporary Arts (Chicago), Flynn Center (Vermont), Library of Congress (Washington, D.C.) and Banlieues Bleus Festival (Paris).

AIR pursues a strategy of collaboration between artists, community resources and mainstream institutions to create cultural and educational programming that brings together diverse sectors across generational, cultural and social experiences.

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