november, 2020

fri06nov7:00 pm9:00 pm25th Anniversary of Chicago Asian American Jazz FestivalStreaming Live

Event Details

25th Anniversary of Chicago Asian American Jazz Festival (CAAJF)

November 6-7, 2020 | 7:00 PM | 

Come and celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Chicago Asian American Jazz Festival featuring the finest in contemporary Asian American music. Curated by Asian Improv aRts Midwest, national and internationally acclaimed Asian American artists and their collaborators weave together their collective flair to produce an improvisational experience unlike any other.

This critically acclaimed annual event is an essential cornerstone for highlighting and documenting the significant role that Asian Americans and their collaborators have in contributing to the city’s historic and vibrant musical landscape.

Friday, November 6, 2020 Artist Line-up


Chicago multi-instrumentalist/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. With a discography of more than 10 recordings as a leader, sideman and producer, Chan has performed extensively in the Chicago area, across the nation and in Europe. Critics have said that Chan is “… a voice to be reckoned with… (Brian Gilmore, JazzTimes)” and that his work is “music of uncommon majesty, spirituality and emotional depth (Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune).”


Chromic is an award-winning toy piano duo that brings new audiences together by creating new connections between classical music, electronics, and multimedia. Trained in piano, percussion, and contemporary practice, Chromic pushes the possibilities of genres and performance by reimagining canonical works, creating playful arrangements and commissioning new works that are transposable through digital and physical spaces. They are Dorothy Chan and Lucy Yao and are found at


Kuroshio is the continuous flow of creative spirit expressed by an ever-evolving ensemble of improvising artists of Asian descent who explore and contemplate notions of identity, culture and diasporic histories through multilayered channels of sound and performance.

The eponymous debut documents an incredibly distinct intersectional moment among three electro-acoustic musicians drawing from a rich current of avant-garde artistic practice. Featured on the recording are Shu-Cheng Allen Wu unraveling sonic samples through his masterful LinnStrument control, pianist Joy Yang who doubles on theremin, and Jason Finkelman on acoustic percussion and laptop electronics.

Allen Wu returned home to Taipei, Taiwan soon after our recording session.

Nathan Wells (violin and electronics) joins Joy Yang and Jason Finkelman as the newest member of Kuroshio for the 2020 Chicago Asian American Jazz Festival.


Jason Finkelman Focus on cross-cultural, improvised music led percussionist Jason Finkelman to
combine laptop electronics and acoustic instrumentation to create his distinct ambient, avant-world sound. A specialist on the single string musical bow berimbau, Finkelman is a Philadelphia-born percussionist who performs on African and Brazilian instruments handcrafted by Adimu Kuumba. His roots in improvised music stem from founding the trio Straylight in 1992, leading to collaborative performances in the late 90’s with a wide spectrum of artists including Pauline Oliveros, Steve Gorn, Joe McPhee, Brian Ritchie, and others in the Straylight Dialogues series at the Knitting Factory in New York City. Since arriving in Urbana-Champaign in 2000, Finkelman has continually performed with a host of genre-blurring improvisers from the area and beyond. As a composer for dance, Finkelman has over twenty-three years of collaboration with choreographer Cynthia Oliver on works including Tether (2019), Virago-Man Dem (2017-18), BOOM! (2014-15) and “Bessie” award winning performances SHEMAD (2000) and Death’s Door (1996). He has also composed works for choreographers Renée Wadleigh, Kirstie Simson, Jessica Cornish, Nico Brown, Renée Archibald, Jessie Young, and Nickels Sunshine. At the University of Illinois, Finkelman directs Global Arts Performance Initiatives at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, providing a wide range of engagement programming featuring international music, avant-garde jazz, and documentary film on contemporary Asia. Finkelman’s most recent campus initiative is Improvisers Exchange, both a performance ensemble and series of concerts and workshops broadly exploring the genre of improvised music.

Joy Yang’s continual pursuit of pushing boundaries in genres and developing a unique voice has influenced her interest in multidisciplinary improvisation. Whilst Joy has been playing Classical piano since the age of four, her undergraduate studies in BMusic/BEducation (Sydney, Australia) with Alister Spence and Sandy Evans opened up a world of jazz and improvisation. She has also worked closely with mentors: Satoko Fujii, Neta Maughan AM, Tamara-Anna Cislowska, Dr. Adam Hulbert, Nicky Crasyon, Eric Chapus, and Lamont Holden. In Sidney, Joy is pianist, thereminist and composer in Valkyrie Trio, an all-female jazz trio with an upcoming album release, and has curated experimental shows in featuring her multidisciplinary group, ViolaMPFREE with live dance, projection mapping, spoken word and digital painting. Currently earning an MMusic in piano performance and literature at the University of Illinois, Joy studies with Dr. Rochelle Sennet and Chip Stephens (jazz piano), performing in classical ensemble settings, as well as in collaboration with modern piano composers. Joy also performs in Urbana Champaign with jazz combos, local hip-hop artists, and Dr. Rudolf Haken, and contributes as an executive board member of UIUC’s Electronic Music Club. Joy is pleased to be pursuing collaborative work celebrating strands of diversity in sound, experience and culture that may fuse into a unified project enhancing mutual human understanding and empathy.

Nathan Wells honors a thirty-three year relationship with his violin, which began as a classical performance violinist pupil under Miss Terrine Gomez, founder of the Young Artist’s Studio, and further instruction under Clara Roland, Sherban Lupu, and Ian Hobson during their tenures at the University of Illinois through 1998. Wells has since engaged sonic expressions in blues, folk, ambient, industrial and otherwise non-identified experimental electro-acoustic musical forms and has programmed opening performances for Chris Carter and Cosey Fanny Tutti of Throbbing Gristle. He keeps a bonding mentor friendship with, Jamal Moss, founder of Mathematics Recordings for which Nathan lends an ear for Artists and Repertoire selections. His elements for sound creation are samplers capturing live voice, violin, modular synthesis, AM radio signal, field recordings, and Hammond Organ. For Wells sonic resonance through improvisation is a means to possess and empower air — one true form of freedom that will change circumstances only the listener will realize.

Fulbright scholar, Shu-Cheng Allen Wu holds a DMA degree in music theory and composition from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Allen’s research interests include contemporary music composition, electronic music, algorithmic music composition, programming, music information retrieval, and live coding. He has composed and produced music for animations, short films and games, and has conducted various ensembles including choirs, theater, chamber music, wind orchestra, and Chinese instrumentation. In the Wu-Morse Duo, Allen developed his strategies for utilizing a LinnStrument controller with laptop electronics for improvisation. Allen was a full time assistant professor at the Asia-Pacific Institute of Creativity and a lecturer at Tamkang University and Chaoyang University of Technology where he taught electronic music engineering and composition, multimedia art, art history, creativity, aesthetics, film music production for non-music majors, and more. During his DMA studies, he taught music theory, aural skills and electroacoustic music techniques.

Visit for more information about CAAJF.


(Friday) 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm CST

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