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The Experiment by Dominic Duval and Jason Kao Hwang

Mind set. Frame of mind. Instruments of choice. The dedication to the solvency of sound that Dominic Duval and Jason Kao Hwang have manifested is solid, strong, and extremely moving. It would be an injustice to write about this as a series of cuts. The two string player’s CD, the EXPERIMENT, has been released under Blue Jackel Entertainment. Dominic is on Hutchins bass and Jason on violin.

The tension and relentlessness of this music increases the crenulations in the brain. Totally involved in the capacity of their string instruments, in the magnifications and the diminutions of their limits, the two players plunge into a whirlwind of variations on sound itself, not themes. Attack, stridency, bravura, even the strain of a voice, furious bowing, some regular ol’ rhythm keep the elevation of the music high. This is a valiant and successful attempt to honor the vestiges of classical music, to bring into improvisation the full-fledged truth that classical music does "inform" avant garde jazz.

There is such a variety of extremes touched here. There is depth and at the same time a poignancy that moves me to desire complete focus on what is going on. There is no wavering on the part of the musicians; the listener should pay close attention as well. This music takes me out of this world. I would venture to say that Dominic and Jason’s playing is a match for the composed music played by the Kronos Quartet.

The underlayment that the bass provides for the violin is almost inseparable from the performance of the violin: which is to chart the threads for the intense interweaving of high and low notes. The ripping up and down the strings on both instruments is startling and perfectly fitting for the adventure. Bowing that turns into one continuous note switches into other characteristic steps through the music where the violin works in counterpoint to the bass and vice versa; or the tempo of one instrument goes half or twice the pace of the other. Melancholic links, strenuous squeezes, inspired fingerings and bowings and glissandos thoroughly overlap and inventively decorate the broadband that is the general concept of the recording.

The pauses that are between the cuts serve to let the listener breathe. Long enough to prepare to move into another twister of structured disorganization. Which eventually builds into a climax demonstrating the process of the music, which happens to be also its content. This recording is thoroughly challenging and engaging. And valuable for the ears. I have listened to it ten times.

(The only liner note that is necessary, except for the biographies, is the poem by Joe McPhee. The remaining notes do not come close to dealing with the quality of the music that is to be heard.)

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Dominic Duval and Jason Kao Hwang
  • CD Title: The Experiment
  • Genre: Free Jazz / Avante Garde
  • Year Released: 2000
  • Record Label: Blue Jackel Entertainment
  • Musicians: Dominic Duval (the Hutchins bass), Jason Kao Hwang (violin)
  • Rating: Five Stars
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