Kang Tae Hwan

Kang Tae Hwan

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The tone this Korean alto saxophonist gets out of his horn is about as far removed as one could get from the popular, syrupy sound popularized by David Sanborn. It is also not a straight classical sound nor does Hwan sound like any of the well-known free jazz players. He gets a dry sound, splintery like a stalk of cut bamboo. And although the sound isn't attractive to the ear at first, it is rewarding listening if one concentrates on his variations and improvising moves. By the mid-'90s he was one of very few improvisers from his country who had made recordings that had circulated in the West. On this Japanese release from the happily named Chap Chap label, he performs two solos and a duo, each with guests reed player Ned Rothenberg and turntable spinner Otomo Yoshihide. Then for a climax all three of them team up, and this may be the point where a listener runs to the window, convinced there's a cat fight outside. The duet with the two horns also is a study in contrasts. Rothenberg sounds like a salesman demonstrating a bass clarinet in a music shop when he goes up against the austere Hwan sound.

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