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The 19th Annual Chicago Asian American Jazz Festival

Asian Improv aRts Midwest, the region's leading presenter of the Asian American cultural arts, is proud to present the 19th season of the critically acclaimed Chicago Asian American Jazz Festival. The festival highlights the diversity of musicians that explore the Asian American experience though music, combining influences that include jazz, blues, rock, hip hop, improv/new music, and traditional Asian musical forms and instrumentation. AIRMW celebrates and documents the historic contribution Asian American musicians and their collaborators make to the Chicago music scene.


SATURDAY, OCTOBER 25, 2014 9:30pm | $10 Hairpin Arts Center | 2810 N. Milwaukee Ave. | Chicago, IL 60618


Saxophone Sanjo is a new musical work composed by international Korean percussion artist So Ra Kim and Chicago-based saxophonist/composer Jeff Chan. Inspired by the sanjo form - which features a solo musician accompanied by a janggu - the Saxophone Sanjo combines traditional Korean performance practices with new/creative music techniques. Also featured this evening will be percussionist/vocalist Donna Lee Kwon, performing original arrangements of traditional and contemporary Korean songs.



South Korean musician So Ra Kim first started playing the Jang-gu (hourglass drum) when she was 8 years old. She has since dedicated her life to music, and she has become a specialist in the percussion-based genres of p’ungmul and samulnori. She is actively involved in collaborating with various musicians to expand the capacity of Korean drum, She is one of the well- known Janggu players in Korea. She started am apprenticeship training of Janggu at age 8 from Jiwha Yu, a pungmul master.

Since she was awarded a first prize for her Janggu solo at age 13 in 1998, she has been honored a first prize in various prestigious pungmul competitions, including the 10th National Women's Korean Traditional Music Festival in 2012, the 13th Incheon Bupyeong Pungmul Festival in 2011, the 10th Anseong Baudeogi Pungmul Festival in 2010, and the 11th Seopyeonje Boseong sori Festival in 2009. So Ra Kim achieved her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in traditional Korean music from Chung-Ang University. From 2008 to 2012, she was an instructor of p’ungmul at the Korea National University of the Arts. Recently, she taught p’ungmul in Yokohama, Japan, and in the United States.

DR. DONNA LEE KWON Donna Lee Kwon earned a double-degree (BA/BM) in piano performance and women’s studies from Oberlin College and Conservatory, an MA in world music/ethnomusicology from Wesleyan University and a PhD in musicology/ ethnomusicology from the University of California, Berkeley. Dedicated to service and community engagement, Dr. Kwon has worked extensively with community arts organizations such as the Korean Youth Cultural Center and served first as Artistic director and later as Executive director. She has performed in various venues including the Asian American Jazz, Other Minds and San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festivals. Dr. Kwon taught previously at Lawrence University and Grinnell College, and was the William Randolph Hearst Fellow at Rhodes College, offering courses on Asian music, global and American popular musics, world music, Korean percussion and musical places, spaces and scenes.

She is the recipient of a Fulbright IIE fellowship, two grants from the Korea Foundation, the Distinguished Master’s Thesis Award, and the Marnie Dilling Prize. Dr. Kwon presents papers regularly at the Society for Ethnomusicology conference and her research interests include Korean music, East Asian and Asian American popular and creative musics, musical transmission and embodiment, and issues of music, space, place and the environment. She is the author of the book, Music in Korea: Experiencing Music, Expressing Culture, published as part of the Global Music Series on Oxford University Press (2011). She was also a member of the Bosnian band, Zabe i Babe, and is featured on their recording, Drumovi with Bison publishing as well as in the educational PBS video series Exploring Worlds of Music, Sound and Environment (Pacific Street films).

TATSU AOKI Bassist Tatsu Aoki is a prolific and accomplished musician, composer and educator. He works in a wide array of musical styles, ranging from traditional Asian music to jazz to experimental music and is a much in-demand artist performing on both contrabass and the shamisen (Japanese 3-stringed lute). He has recorded over 100 albums featuring many of the musical legends of Chicago, including Fred Anderson, Von Freeman, Malachi Favors Maghostut, Don Moye and John Watson Sr. 2006 saw Aoki present his most ambitious work to date, “re: Rooted,” a continuation of his “Rooted” composition cycle featuring the MIYUMI Project Big Band at Millennium Park’s Pritzker Pavilion. His honors include being named a “Chicagoan of the Year” by the Chicago Tribune and receiving a Milestone Award from the Asian American Institute for his contributions to the community.

JEFF CHAN Chicago saxophonist/composer Jeff Chan is dedicated to advancing the understanding of the Asian American experience through music. He has worked with many of the leaders of the Asian American creative music movement, including saxophonist Francis Wong and bassist Tatsu Aoki as well as some of the top figures in the Chicago music scene such as saxophonists Jimmy Ellis, Ari Brown, Mwata Bowden and Edward Wilkerson Jr., trumpeter Ameen Muhammad, drummer Avreeayl Ra and pianist/vocalist/bandleader Yoko Noge. 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 & Music. He has compiled a discography of over 10 recordings documenting his work as a leader, guest artists/sideman and producer.

Chan has received awards from Meet The Composer, the Zellerbach Family Fund, the San Francisco Arts Commission and the Illinois Arts Council and has performed across the country and in Europe as a leader and guest artist. A native of the California Bay Area, Chan made the move to Chicago in 2002 in order to be a part of the city’s rich musical culture. Critics have said that Chan is “… a voice to be reckoned with… (Brian Gilmore, JazzTimes, April 15, 2010)” and that his work is “music of uncommon majesty, spirituality and emotional depth (Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune, October 11, 2005).”

If you would like to find out more about the 19th Anniversary Chicago Asian American Jazz Festival, AIRMW, share an idea or make a donation, here is how to contact us: Asian Improv aRts Midwest c/o JASC 4427 N. Clark Street Chicago, IL 60640 T: (708) 386 9349 F: (708) 575 1869

The 19th Annual Chicago Asian American Jazz Festival is a program of Asian Improv aRts Midwest and is supported in part by the Illinois Arts Council, the MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture at the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, the Alphawood Foundation and The Joyce Foundation.


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