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Gong Linna- vocals

Bang On A Can All-Stars:

Ashley Bathgate- cello

Robert Black- bass

Vicky Chow- piano

David Cossin- percussion

Mark Stewart- electric bass

Ken Thomson- clarinet & bass clarinet

  1. Yun Zhong Jun (Lao Luo) (4:49)

  2. Into The Clouds (Julia Wolfe) (6:10)

  3. River (Michael Gordon) (4:43)

  4. He Bo (Lao Luo) (5:23)

  5. Girl With Mountain (David Lang) (3:06)

  6. Shan Gui (Lao Luo) (4:52)

  7. Tan Te (Lao Luo) (3:23)



    This disc merges ancient China word and thought with modern music, creating an adventurous collaboration between vocalist Gong Linna and the avant-garde musical ensemble known as the Bang on a can All-Stars. Gong Linna is a premier jazz fusion singer and world music artist who specializes in Chinese traditional singing techniques. She sings in both Mandarin and English. The Bang on a can All-Stars are an innovative group of New-York based composers and musicians who specialize in free jazz and experimental music. Lyrics for these songs are translated from poems written by Chinese poet Qu Yuan, first published during the Han Dynasty about two thousand years ago . Bang on a can founders David Lang, Julia Wolfe and Michael Gordon translated and composed the music for several tunes in this set. Lao Luo, also known as Robert Zollitsch, is the husband of vocalist Gong Linna and also translated and composed four of the selections.

    Yun Zhong Jun , with music written by Lao Luo to a translation by David Hawkes, is a song about a luxurious flying god. Gong sings this tune in Mandarin, her haunting voice softly setting the stage for a heavenly trip. Ashley Bathgate’s sonorous bowing on cello, followed by Vicky Chow’s rapidly repeating piano arpeggios, match Gong’s rising soprano as it joins the god in flight. Into The Clouds was written by Julia Wolfe as a follow-on to Yun Zhong Jun, and the band performs it to a rapid rock-beat with a repeating mantra of phrases, sung in English, to the wonders in the sky. He Bo was composed Lao Lou, with lyrics by David Hawkes. The reflective tune describes a stormy river trip in a chariot pulled by two dragons and meeting a river god riding on top of a white turtle. Gong again sings in Mandarin, and she uses a unique nasal quality in her voice to dynamically express and change emotions. River is an extension and conclusion to the river trip described in He Bo. With music and lyrics by Michael Gordon, it is a fast, tension-building piece with repeating phrases on guitar, bass and cello, highlighting Gong’s kinetic sing-shouting in English describing a climb along the river’s edge up Kunlun Mountain. Girl With Mountain, with words and music by David Lang, is a delicate, peaceful soliloquy, sung in English with short, simple phrases, accompanied by cello, bass and a single repeating note on the piano. In stark contrast, Tan Te is a frantic explosion of Gong’s rapid-fire Mandarin scat punctuated over three octaves, matched and driven by David Cossin’s high-energy drum work.

    This album was produced, recorded, mixed and mastered by Rob Friedman and David Cossin and released in July, 2017. The music was recorded at Water Music in Hoboken, New Jersey in June, 2015, and mixed and mastered at Littlelife Studio in New York City. The sound quality is excellent.

    Bruce McCollum


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