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

2021-04-01
New Aristocrats Live Album on the Way – No foolin'! These supreme musicians toured Europe early in 2020, just before touring ceased to be a thing musicians could do, and there were some hot performances captured. On May 7, some of these will be releases as Freeze! Live in Europe 2020. » Read more

2021-03-25
Return of Jerry Lucky's Progressive Rock Files – After much consideration and surprisingly, positive feedback, Jerry Lucky is announcing the launch of the progressive Rock Files podcast, featuring the latest progressive rock music from around the world. » Read more

2021-03-14
Jewlia Eisenberg RIP – The sad news has come out that Jewlia Eisenberg has died. As a founding member of Charming Hostess, Eisenberg changed the face of music, bringing together Balkan klezmer, American folk, and experimental rock in a distinctive blend that garnered much praise. » Read more

2021-03-11
RIP Roger Trigaux – The sad news has come to our attention that Roger Trigaux, the guiding force of Present and former member of Univers Zero, passed away on the evening of March 10, 2021 after a long ilness. » Read more

2021-02-14
SoundQuest Fest 2021 – SoundQuest Fest, first experienced as a live festival in Tucson Arizona in 2010 was created by ambient music pioneer Steve Roach. This 2021 event will unite a worldwide gathering of artists and audience members together for a 3-day online event unique in the realm of ambient music. From March 26-28th a continuous flow of streamed performances, audio-video wonder worlds and deep immersion zones will burn bright on Roach’s YouTube channel. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Amazing Blondel - Englische Musicke – Amazing Blondel existed throughout the early 70s, originally formed by John Gladwin and Terry Wincott after leaving another even more obscure band called Methuselah. This compilation is drawn from...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues