Jonathan Chen and Tatsu Aoki, combine to form their eclectic duo for the opening set of the final day of the CAAJF.
Asian American Experimentalism
is the event that extrapolates the unique concept experience created during Tatsu
Aoki’s collaboration with the Jonathan Chen Orchestra. It is an electro-acoustic
soundscape distilled from the reality of the Asian-American existence.
Composer, improviser, and sound artist, Jonathan Chen, creates work through
either conceptual foci or through experimentation with materials. His work for
electronics often consist of thick layers of fluctuating sounds produced through
multiple feedback systems, and at other times a more simple approach such as his
installation Amplified (2010), which only involves the light amplification of a
person’s voice. As a violinist and violist his improvisational work often emphasizes
timbre rather than pitch, either drawing from a wide palette, or honing in on a
single sound. Chen has a PhD in Electronic Arts from Rensselaer Polytechnic
Institute, Troy, New York; a Master of Arts in Music Composition from Wesleyan
University, Middletown, CT; and a Master of Music in Violin Performance from
Northwestern University, Evanston, IL. His work has been published by Leonardo
Music Journal (MIT Press), the Deep Listening Institute, Asian Improv Records,
Interval, and Striking Mechanism, among others.
Tatsu Aoki is a leading advocate for the Asian American community, as well as a
prolific composer and performer of traditional and experimental music forms, a
filmmaker, and an educator. Born in Tokyo, 1957 into the Toyoakimoto artisan
family, a traditional house for training and booking agents for geisha. Aoki was part
of his family’s performance crew from the age of four. In the late 1960s, he shifted
his energies from the traditional to American pop and experimental music. By the
early 1970s, Aoki was active in Tokyo’s underground arts movement as a member of
Gintenkai, an experimental ensemble that combined traditional music and new
In 1977, Aoki left Tokyo and is now one of the most in-demand performers of bass, shamisen, and taiko, contributing more than ninety recording projects and touring internationally during the last thirty-five years. Aoki is the Founder and Artistic Director of Chicago Asian American Jazz Festival.
Counter point to Strings and Electronics, the evening is rounded off with Metal Wind Instrumentalists: Ari Brown, Ed Wilkerson, Jeff Chan, and Mai Sugimoto Versatility has characterized the career of Ari Brown, is a multi-reedist and pianist, whose technique and traditional jazz chops are highly expressive across his instruments, and a dynamic and important member of the Chicago avant-garde jazz scene. Brown has performed all over the world, touring with Elvin Jones, and working with such musicians as McCoy Tyner, Don Patterson, Sonny Stitt, Lester Bowie, Bobby Watson, and Anthony Braxton. He has been part of Kahil El’Zabar’s Ritual Trio and is the go-to saxophonist for Orbert Davis’s Chicago Jazz Philharmonic.
Edward Wilkerson Jr. is an internationally recognized jazz musician, composer, arranger, and educator based in Chicago. As founder and director of the octet 8 Bold Souls and the twenty-five- member ensemble Shadow Vignettes, Wilkerson has toured festivals and concert halls throughout the US, Europe, Japan, and the Middle East. Jeff Chan is dedicated to advancing the understanding of the Asian American experience through music and has worked with many of the leaders of the Asian American creative music movement. As a composer, Chan has created works for varied and diverse ensembles, from solo instruments to large ensembles, including a musical score for modern dance company Facing East Dance and Music.
Mai Sugimoto is a Japanese born saxophonist and composer. She performs frequently throughout the Chicagoland area and is a member of Hanami, a quartet that features her original work and arrangements of Japanese music.