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

2020-09-09
Simeon Coxe RIP – Simeon Coxe, best known for his experimental electronics in the band Silver Apples, has died at the age of 82. The band's 1968 debut album set the stage for both German electronic music and experimental punk music a decade later. Coxe died on September 8 from pulmonary fibrosis. » Read more

2020-09-05
Gary Peacock RIP – Legendary bassist Gary Peacock, veteran of many recordings and performances with Paul Bley, George Russell, Roland Kirk, Bill Evans, Tony Williams, and many more. » Read more

2020-07-22
Tim Smith RIP – Tim Smith, leader of the eccentric band Cardiacs, has died at the age of 59 after many years of health problems. Cardiacs was known for intense and complicated music that combined punk energy with the rhythmic and harmonic sophistication of progressive rock. » Read more

2020-07-12
Judy Dyble RIP – Singer-songwriter Judy Dyble, who was a founding member of Fairport Convention and one of the distinctive voices of the 60s folk revival in Britain, has died at the age of 71. Her passing came at the end of a long illness, though which she continued to work. » Read more

2020-07-06
Ennio Morricone RIP – Famed composer Ennio Morricone has died at the age of 91. The creator of scores for more than 500 movies, some of his works have become the most recognizable sounds in the history of cinema. His soundtracks for Sergio Leone's Westerns made from 1964 to 1971, are iconic landmarks in film music, but he also composed for dramas, comedies, and other genres. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Score in 2016 for The Hateful Eight. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Spirit - Salvation... The Spirit of '74 – One of the heretofore undocumented periods in Spirit's career began shortly after Epic's rejection of Potatoland in '73. Randy California left the group (for the second time) and moved to...  (2008) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues