Exposé Online banner

Annie Chen Octet — Secret Treetop
(Shanghai Audio & Video, 2018, CD / DL)

by Jon Davis, Published 2019-01-02

Secret Treetop Cover art

Jazz as an art form may have been born in the US, but over the century or so (no need to be more precise) of its existence, it has reached all over the world, and people from different backgrounds and cultures bring their own ideas to the music. If you regard jazz more as a method of producing music than a set of standard pieces that musicians assemble, the music stretches far and wide, pretty much everywhere improvisation blends with composition. Annie Chen is a singer who was born in Beijing and grew up on Western as well as Chinese classical music, but when she heard jazz her horizons opened up and she pursued a dream that included ideas from far beyond those beginnings. Secret Treetop is her second album as leader, and features influences from many parts of the world. The opening track is heavily Turkish-inflected in both melody and rhythm, and two pieces are sung in Chinese, one song from Taiwan and the other from Mongolia. Japan also features, with a pair of tracks inspired by anime and literature. Her band is likewise international, with Polish guitarist Rafał Sarnecki handling arranging duties; violinist Tomoko Omura is from Japan and the trumpet is played by a Canadian, David Smith. The other four are Americans: Glenn Zaleski (piano), Alex LoRe (alto saxophone, flute), Mat Muntz (bass), and Jerad Lippi (drums). Chen’s voice, whether interpreting lyrics or sailing free of words, is treated as another instrument, and she’s an extraordinary singer, with good range and intonation, and her inflections sometimes touch on jazz styles, but also range into less fettered areas. The other musicians are outstanding as well, with Omura’s violin especially impressive. There are too many wonderful moments on Secret Treetop to call out individually — every track has a different flavor and all have standout features, whether in individual performances or beautiful interactions. It’s a very impressive work from start to finish, with qualities that won over this jazz fan who generally doesn’t enjoy jazz vocalists.


Filed under: New releases, 2018 releases

Related artist(s): Annie Xuanyu Chen, Rafał Sarnecki

More info
http://anniechen.bandcamp.com/album/secret-treetop

Latest news

2019-10-06
Ginger Baker RIP – Legendary English drummer Ginger Baker has died at the age of 80. After coming to fame with Cream in the 60s alongside Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce, he became one of the most recognized and influential drummers of the rock era. On September 25, his family announced that he was critically ill, and on October 6 his death was confirmed. » Read more

2019-08-20
Alex's Hand Seeks Spa Treatment – American / European band Alex's Hand has a new album in the works called Hungarian Spa, which looks to be their biggest and best yet, featuring a large roster of guest musicians. They're seeking funding to take the project on the road, and are looking for help from the crowd of wisdom. » Read more

2019-06-05
Legendary Co-Founder of The 13th Floor Elevators Passes Away at Age 71 – Sadly, Roky Erickson passed away on May 31, 2019. Known as the father of psychedelic music and co-founder of the ground breaking 13th Floor Elevators, Roky had a profound influence on music from the 60s to today. Plagued by his own personal demons, Roky had a difficult life and is now free of these burdens. » Read more

2019-04-24
Help MoonJune Bring Great Music to Life – Like many music lovers around the world, we’ve been thrilled and amazed to hear the recordings that have been released by MoonJune from sessions at La Casa Murada in Spain. Such label stalwarts as Mark Wingfield, Markus Reuter, Asaf Sirkis, Tony Levin, Dusan Jevtovic, Vasil Hadzimanov, and many more have gathered in various combinations at the studio to produce some of the most creative music in recent years. Now, label head Leonardo Pavkovic is offering a compilation, La Casa Murada - MoonJune Sessions, Volume One, as a fundraiser for upcoming sessions. » Read more

2019-04-10
The Pineapple Thief to Tour North America – November and December of 2019 will see The Pineapple Thief bringing their music to Canada, Mexico, and the US, and famed drummer Gavin Harrison will be on board. The band has been touring extensively in Europe, but North America will be new territory for them. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Progres 2 - Dialog S Vesmírem – This is a solid 76 minute live set from one of the better Eastern European prog bands. Progres 2 recorded several albums in the late 70s/early 80s featuring a rather dark and aggressive symphonic...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues