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Label: No Black Tie Records
Chino soy; Dance of the Yao tribe I; Dance of the Yao tribe II; In that silence; Mountain song; The sleepless cuckoo; Through sand storms and hazy dawns; Thumbs up.
Michael Simon: trumpet and flugelhorn; Minyen Hsieh: tenor and soprano saxophones; Chung Yufeng: pipa; Michael Veerapen: piano; Daniel Foong: bass; John Ashley Thomas: drums.
The innovative trumpeter teams up with a Malaysian rhythm section, a saxophonist from Taiwan, and a master of the pipa to create fresh new jazz on his latest CD, recorded at No Black Tie in Malaysia. Michael Simon, always an adventurous and colorful musician, is releasing his new release Asian Connection on No Black Tie Records. The wide-ranging set features the trumpeter with a top-notch rhythm section from Malaysia (pianist Michael Veerapen, bassist Daniel Foong and drummer John Thomas), tenor-saxophonist Minyeh Hsieh from Taiwan and Chung YuFeng playing the pipa, a Chinese ethnic string instrument. The result is a stimulating set that includes aspects of Asian music while retaining its roots in swinging hard bop. Asian Connection has the unique jazz sextet performing such numbers as “Chino Soy” (originally recorded by the popular Spanish- American bandleader Xavier Cugat in 1935), two very different versions of “Dance Of The Yao Tribe” (paying tribute to an ethnic minority based in Southwestern China), the funky “In That Silence,” a revival of a traditional Chinese folk melody (“Mountain Song”), the pipa feature “Pears In The Wind – Cuckoos Sang Into The Night”), a picturesque “Through Sand Storms and Hazy Dawns,” an introspective ballad (“Thumbs Up”), and the infectious “Thumbs Up” which has heated Simon trumpet playing that is reminiscent of Blue Mitchell and Lee Morgan. Throughout Asian Connection, the music keeps one guessing, features unusual tone colors (including a blend of the pipa with Hsieh’s soprano sax), lively themes, and consistently creative playing. Throughout his career, Michael Simon has always sought to open up jazz while retaining its essence, never being shy to swing hard whenever it uplifts the music.