For Now

by Jen Shyu



Some tracks are hidden from this site, but you will receive them if you buy the whole album!

Note from the Artist

I have been praised--and sometimes accused--of living purely in the moment. The act of being present, or in fact, of just being, is what this album is about. This is us--Jimmy, John-Carlos, Francis, Art, Dee, and me--for now. Our pasts, individual and shared, account for the way it sounds. On another level, the album illustrates my belief that the strength of your commitment now to your true self, while acknowledging all ghosts and memories of the past, absolutely affects your future and the future of those around you.

In addition to being intrigued by each tune I chose for this album, I chose to share the tunes for one of two reasons: to introduce songs which aren't heard often if at all in a jazz context; or to do standards in a different way in close collaboration with the artists. Each tune became singularly shaped by the backgrounds, integrity, and talent of Jimmy, John-Carlos, Francis, Art, Dee, and the chemistry and trust among us.

A little about "Spring Flower Waiting for Dew." My 2nd uncle gave my parents a book of Taiwanese folk songs, where I found "Spring Flower," written by Chiang, Chong-Chin in 1930. During the period when Japan occupied Taiwan from 1895 until Japan released it after WWII, there were countless sorrowful songs written about women left at home, missing their lovers. Here's the translation of this text:

It's breezy tonight, and I see through the window the full moon, hanging outside in midair.
We lovers long to see each other, but my bed remains empty beside me.
I came to see you, like a wild bird lamenting, "Ai-yo!"
My heart is full of sadness. I lie sleepless, waiting for you to come home.

~ Translation by Ana, Tsu Pin, and Jen Shyu


The morning after the recording session on October 20, 2001, I woke up from my dream, crying. The dream: the band and I were sitting around a table eating, in celebration of the productive 12-hour recording session. John-Carlos raised his glass to me and called out, "Speech!" after we made a toast. After some thought, I said:

"To new friends becoming old friends· and the music being so good because of that." After meeting each pair of eyes at the table, I broke into sobs of gratitude. Then I woke up.

I am grateful and in awe of everyoneâs extra efforts in making this project move forward and happen. Un mil gracias to Francis, John-Carlos, Jimmy, Dee, and Art-- you are all magnificent...magic always happens when you play, and I'm honored to be a part of it; Rob Berenson for your organic approach, dedication, and patience with this, my first project; Mark Stikman for your brilliant aesthetic skill and mind-reading abilities; the Bayview Studios crew - Stephen Suda (for your warmth and your mean and mighty omelette), Jack Crimes, & Pete Carlson; Polymorph; Big Hut; André Thélémaque & Dolphin Graphics; Janice Whaley & Key of J Designs; Kieran Ridge; Linda Wosskow; Thick Description; Other Minds, for the new music; Mari Hatta, for introducing me to Francis; Jon Jang, Kallan Nishimito, Gathering of Ancestors, Red Jade, Lenora Lee, Melody Takata, and Doug Yokoyama, all for empowering me; Oliver Mayer who assigned me the mission of seeking out songs currently hidden from the jazz world; to all my music, dance, and life "inspirators" and teachers; thanks from Dee, Art, and me to Eric Cheng, for your Magic Piano; and to all my friends and idols, here and abroad; to Jeremy Henrickson, for the endless support, belief, and friendship; and of course my brother Linus and parents Ana and Tsu Pin, without whom I would definitely not be "here", in every sense of the word.

~ Jen
Liner Notes by Francis Wong

One of the joys of being a resident artist in the SF Bay Area community is seeing the resurgence of young new artists coming here to do their work. It's been such a pleasure getting to know Jennifer Shyu and working with her on this project. Jen combines an open mind and an open heart with tremendous clarity and drive.

When I first met Jen in October 2000 (she had recently graduated from Stanford) I resonated with her experience coming to this music as a Chinese American with a European classical background. Her pursuit of the freedom of expression of America's great art form is so very exciting to experience and participate in.

In putting this project together Jen showed a lot of focus and confidence in herself and her relationships with ensemble members. She went with a very transparent and open concept with either duets with pianist Dee Spencer or with a rhythm section of John- Carlos Perea on electric bass and Jimmy Biala on percussion. The chemistry between Jen, John Carlos, Jimmy and myself comes from working together on the Japanese Community Cultural Center's Soko Arts project and her participation in the Red Jade Collective co-led by Jimmy and dancer Lenora Lee. Pianist Art Hirahara beautifully fills out the ensemble on NATURE BOY, giving a glimpse of more textures to come from future projects. I'm very thankful to Jen for drawing out a new voice for me in her choice of my soprano for most of the tracks. I really enjoy her phrasing and ability to let the moment happen; we always have a great musical conversation.

Jennifer Shyu has gotten a lot done in a short amount of time and had a large impact in the community here in San Francisco. As you can see from her comments and acknowledgments here in the liner notes, FOR NOW comes from a very rich experience with family, friends, school, the arts community and her musical collaborators. We are all very lucky to be a part of such a heartfelt offering.

In Sound,

Francis Wong
February 4, 2002

Reviews & Quotes:
"JEN SHYU. 'For Now,' 4AM Music ANA2002. A new singer meriting close attention, Jen Shyu's jazz craft and sensibilities are contagious without pause on 'For Now.' With blithesome warmth she establishes a personal code of prompt connection and spirit. On this CD of 11 cuts, she draws on color, novel treatments, instrumental soloists, and energy of the total group. Their rapport shows up the effects of playing together as a collective for some two years in various configurations. Saxophonist Francis Wong, the lone horn player, is highly reputed for his captivating improvisations; he is responsible for motivating Shyu to sing in an open manner on 'Lover Man,' deserting the straight-ahead stance she previously adhered to on the tune. An unbounded mix of songs offers a spread of sources and challenges, illustrating Shyu's versatility and adventuresomeness. Some highlights include the percussive flavors on 'Caravan,' an atmospheric 'Nature Boy' without signs of tethering to form but revealing Shyu's radar sensitivity to its lyric line and space, and the strong rhythmic feel of 'Summertime' sticking out among countless other versions. Germane to her Asian cultural ties, her gentle voice is haunting on 'Spring Flower Waiting For Dew.' 'Again' was catapulted as a 1954 Vic Damone hit record from the flick 'Roadhouse'; Shyu does the tune more than justice. Complemented by a band of San Francisco Bay Area stalwarts--percussionist Jimmy Biala, bassist John-Carlos Perea, pianists Dee Spencer and Art Hirahara, plus Francis Wong, Jen Shyu meshes her soulfulness with integrity and élan. 'For Now' is a bright forecast for later!"

~Dr. Herb Wong, "Jazz Perspectives,"
International Association for Jazz Education Journal, November/December 2002

“...engaging arrangements and empathy between the musicians at a high level. This is a very cool CD!”

~Wayne Wallace, composer and arranger

"I love Jen Shyu's vocal rendition of the Chinese song “Spring Flower Waiting for Dew” because she sounds like a bell from faraway that is alone on an island surrounded by the sea."

~Jon Jang, pianist and composer

“For those who have been astounded by her prodigious pianistic talents, Jennifer Shyu reveals herself to be a double musical threat with her debut recording as a vocalist. From torch song stylist to sultry chanteuse to Chinese folk songstress, Ms. Shyu commands a range of interpretive abilities on the eleven songs comprising FOR NOW. At once drawing from her classical training and then freely improvising on ‘Summertime,’ Jen Shyu demonstrates a rare versatility and soulfulness. Her treatment of standards such as ‘The Way You Look Tonight’ and ‘Nature Boy’ showcase her creative and collaborative rapport with her musicians including Francis Wong, Art Hirahara, John-Carlos Perea and Jimmy Biala.”

~Anthony Brown, percussionist and educator


released May 24, 2002

Personnel: Jen Shyu, vocals; Francis Wong, soprano & tenor saxophone; Jimmy Biala, percussion; John-Carlos Perea, electric bass; Dee Spencer, piano (#1, 7, 11); Art Hirahara, piano (#5). "For Now" produced by Jen Shyu. All tunes recorded and mixed by Rob Berenson (except #7, mixed by Mark Stikman). Recorded at Bayview Studios (#1, 7, & 11 recorded Sept. 6. All others recorded Oct. 20, 2001). Mixed at Bayview Studios (except #7 mixed at Polymorph). Digitally mastered and edited by Mark Stikman at Polymorph. Art and design by Janice Whaley at Key of J Designs,; Photography by Kieran Ridge (except inside portrait by Yael Dahan and sheet music photo by Jancie Whaley).



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Jen Shyu New York

NEW 2015 ALBUM on Pi! : Experimental vocalist,composer,multi-instrumentalist,dancer,Doris Duke Impact Awardee,Fulbright scholar, having worked w/ Steve Coleman & Anthony Braxton, Shyu has produced 6 albums,becoming the 1st female+ vocalist leader on Pi. She is currently touring "Solo Rites: Seven Breaths,"dir. by Garin Nugroho. ... more


  • Dec 07
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