Based out of New York City, Jason Kao Hwang’s Spontaneous River is an outfit comprised of 37 string improvisers and a drummer. Symphony of Souls is a series of unstructured movements, exemplifying the inspired rule-breaking vitality that can only be generated by letting go of convention and letting fly the spirits of sound.
Hwang serves as composer, conductor and violinist on the record, cleverly holding together the movements that sometimes settle into grooves (“Movement 2”) and moody pastures of tension just waiting for sweet, sweet release (“Movement 4”).
Hwang’s journey to Spontaneous River began in 2007 when he and Patricia Parker assembled a string orchestra to put together a memorial tribute for Leroy Jenkins. He received an overwhelming number of interested string musicians and, after a performance conducted by Billy Bang at Vision Festival XII, Hwang decided to put his own compositions before his newly-amassed horde of instrumentalists.
Recorded at Systems Two in Brooklyn, New York, Symphony of Souls is more than the nexus of improv and organization; it is a transformed method and a commitment to discharge art from the broad-shouldered boundaries of the page and the chart. It is about communication, energy and sheer passion. And it smokes.
Article originally published as part of Music Reviews: Jason Kao Hwang, Spontaneous River, EDGE, and Macy Chen at Blogcritics.org