Jen Shyu : Jade Tongue

by Jen Shyu



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

Enormous thanks to the incredible band; and to Mom, Dad, Linus, Acid, Craig, Steve, Paty, Soomi, Josh, Andrew, Dan W., Dan S., Jamie, Vin, Eric, Rachel, Brett, Tim, Michelle & the Sisal Garden, and all my dear friends and family. Special thanks to the Tung family, Ralph, Rita, Tina, & the Asian Cultural Council.

Time Out review by David Adler ( 'It’s hard to imagine a stronger opener for Jen Shyu’s sophomore release, Jade Tongue, than “Mother Cow’s Companion,” one of three traditional folk songs on the disc. Shyu sings it alone, hinting at blues vibrato as she weaves microtonal melodies in a Taiwanese dialect. “Chapter 33,” with Mandarin text from the Tao Te Ching, follows in a loosely funky vein, the first of several deftly arranged, passionately realized compositions for six instruments and voice.

As the vocalist in Steve Coleman’s experimental funk-world-jazz band, Five Elements, Shyu has contended with rhythmic innovation and improvisational boldness for some time. On Jade Tongue she crafts a personal synthesis, bringing tight, jazz-informed interplay to bear on themes of Asian-American diaspora. The program is a bit long (nearly 80 minutes), with a three-part historical suite, “The Chinese-Cuban Question,” at the center, plus two pieces from Lee-gendary, a theater collaboration involving Shyu and actor Soomi Kim.

From the exacting unisons of “Soomi Line” and “Eye[I] Inside” to the balladic motion of “The Human Color” and “Wayward Son,” the music tests the formidable talents of players like altoist David Binney, trumpeter Shane Endsley and drummer Dan Weiss. Shyu matches their virtuosity and sings with palpable nerve, her enunciation of Chinese an outflow of unpredictable timbres. While English-language testimonies of abuses from 1876 make for clunky lyrics in “The Chinese-Cuban Question,” the accounts add up to a harrowing and effective whole. It’s a remarkable achievement, with rich theatrical implications for the concert setting.'


released January 24, 2009

Personnel: Jen Shyu, music, lyrics, vocals & piano (Track 13, Verse 1 of Track 8); David Binney, alto sax; David Bryant, piano & Rhodes; Shane Endsley, trumpet; Thomas Morgan, bass; Miles Okazaki, acoustic & electric guitar; Dan Weiss, drums; Recorded by Andrew Felluss and assisted by Toby Driver at 58 North 6 Medialabs. Edited by Dan Stein at King Kuts Recording, Mixed by Jamie Saft in Potterville, Mastered by Vin Cin at Electric Plant Studios, Brooklyn. Artwork by Eric Jiaju Lee, [titles and placement] Graphic design by Rachel Mui, Photography by Steven Schreiber. All music (c)2008 Jen Shyu. Published by Chiuyen Music (ASCAP).


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Jen Shyu New York

NEW 2017 ALBUM on Pi! : Experimental vocalist,composer,multi- instrumentalist,dancer, 2019 Guggenheim Fellow+USA Fellow, 2016 Doris Duke Artist, Fulbright scholar, has produced 7 albums, becoming the 1st female+ vocalist leader on Pi. She's touring Nine Doors dir. by Alex Mihail, premiering Zero Grasses commissioned by John Zorn 10/30/19. ... more

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Track Name: Mother Cow's Companion
Daughter, you are a grown-up now as we parents have raised you with care
As we are going to separate soon, Mother truly can't bear the sorrow
Daughter, you will have to serve the rice bowl for another family in a few days
When you live in their home, you must be obedient to your in-laws
Track Name: Chapter 33
Those who understand others are wise / Those who know themselves are in the light / Those who overcome others are powerful / Those who overcome themselves have strength / Those who are content are wealthy Those who take action have will / Those who do not lose the Tao are everlasting / Those who die but do not perish continue to live
Track Name: Li Bai
...But draw a knife to cut the stream; the stream only flows the faster...
Track Name: The Chinese-Cuban Question Part 2: What were the causes?
"...The new administrator was cruel as a wolf or a tiger and his heart was as venomous as that of a snake. A certain Ch’en A-tsao not being able to endure the ill-treatment jumped into a sugar caldron; Lien A-hsing suffering from a bad leg and unable to work, on being forced to labour hanged himself; Liu Pai-jen was flogged by the administrator till he spat blood and died..."
Track Name: The Chinese-Cuban Question Part 3: The Human Color
Question now what became before Is it the same or will it always be a tragic demise of the innocent and wise or is there some kind of hope that the pure days we foresee will be the ones that come to be Now question how that glorious deed is done Summon the spirits from the earth and the air Let them tell us to prepare for the war that's born within Skin rubs off and what remains? The human color of our veins - by Jen Shyu
Track Name: Su Xiang Gee (Thinking Back)
Thinking back, you, the respectable elders, are all lucky stars/ To be strong and brave is a fortune/ Today, we see each other, smiling, embracing/ I wish you a healthy life of 120 years/ Thinking back, we come to this earth temporarily to have a good time/ Do not labor yourself just to make money/ If you destroy your health, you’ll have nothing to lean on/ Stay young and fresh, and you’ll have no worries/ Thinking back, we come to this world that is full of warmth/ Don’t care too much about money; it will make you worry/ Stay relaxed, and you will love the world more/ I wish you a healthy and satisfying life
Track Name: Elliptical / Wayward Son
Bright moon in the sky, light shines here before my bed/ In dream do I ask could be frost upon the ground I raise my head to gaze at the clear moon/ I lower my head remembering my old home - By Li Bai.
...Who can say that the heart of an inch-long grass will repay the sunlight of full spring? - By Meng Jiao
Track Name: Lunation
In somnium

I had a dream.
I had a dream awake:
bisection, thirst
MIND in a two-gender belly
announcing the power of CREATION
craving for ejaculation, fecundation, TRANSFORMATION
revolving into FORM: LAW
as limit of SPACE: door

I had a dream.
I had a dream awake:
As clock, NATURE’s calls
PATTERNS of ups and downs
all in form of clay
and THE ALL all would attain
as water, vapor and rain
CHANGE would always remain
the last would be the first,
the first would be the anxious
and GOOD things come to those who…ARE)
Track Name: Leo Strong
Opening the fear I fear what it was (what it will be) and I have found it to be nothing
Begin the journey early in your plan to live. Evil – ills Away again! Pressed inside of peace I would undermine wrongdoing and keep on proving…
Track Name: Vision of the Eye[I] Inside
Vision of the eye[I] inside sees what you cannot sight internal sees the raw ruins of the earth tell us truth about the past your intuition enters into the liberation of age race or caste revolutionary cause conquering the ego ground by nature's own laws foregoing the time mind slips in and out of the awareness of the hour rhythm and rhyme permeate the soul moving even the stillest body righting the inevitable wrong - by Jen Shyu