華裔鋼琴家洪維浩 半路出家圓爵士夢

August 5th, 2018 / 世界日報

來自台灣的華裔爵士鋼琴家洪維浩 (Francis Hon),自幼學習古典鋼琴,來美後卻被爵士樂迷住,決定追逐夢想,轉換音樂方向,與來自世界各地的音樂家組樂隊,在舞台上打造他的爵士音樂夢。

紐約勵馨婦幼關懷中心近日舉辦「讓愛飛揚青少年社會工作營」,洪維浩以自己的爵士樂之路鼓勵青少年,在追逐夢想的道路上,要勇敢、堅持、專注,終能走出一條獨特的路。

出生在台北的洪維浩,六歲開始學古典鋼琴樂,一直到從音樂學院本科畢業時,除了古典音樂,幾乎從未接觸過其他音樂類型;他說,直到23歲服兵役時與樂團團友交流,才知道了爵士樂,並喜歡上,但「那時台灣沒有專門的爵士樂課程,如果要學習爵士,我要從零開始,當時覺得太晚了。」

從第一次接觸爵士樂,到決定從頭學習爵士樂,洪維浩花了五年時間。研究生畢業後,2011年他到美國德州大學奧斯汀分校 (University of Texas at Austin) 攻讀古典鋼琴表演博士;讀書期間,在一次學生上台演奏的課堂上,聽了同學的精彩表演後,洪維浩想,即使自己的演奏水平與同學一樣好,卻沒有獨特之處。

為了與別人不同,洪維浩的音樂之路大轉彎,他決定走上爵士樂之路。他說,雖然開始得很晚,但「如果能堅持十年,日後就有十年經驗,如果不去做,十年後還是沒有經驗」。

學了20多年古典樂的洪維浩,想要涉足非洲裔文化底蘊的爵士樂並不容易。他表示,古典樂與爵士樂的演奏方式完全不同;古典樂音樂家都是「向前」的、「激進」的,爵士樂演奏家卻是「放鬆」的、「即興」的。

為了成為一個爵士樂音樂人,習慣早睡的洪維浩每周夜裡,都前往當地的爵士樂酒吧,與爵士樂演奏家交流,了解他們的說話、走路、表演方式;博士畢業後,又到紐約大學攻讀爵士樂研究生。

他表示,紐約有最好的爵士樂學校,有最優秀的爵士樂音樂家,有更多的演出機會,但初到紐約的求學之路並不順利;由於沒有朋友,也幾乎沒有爵士圈的「關係」,洪維浩一度十分沮喪,「很長一段時間沒有人邀請我加入樂隊,也許因為我是亞裔,也許因為我不懂他們講的笑話,有時他們說話很快,我也無法了解,感覺被隔絕了」。

直到有一天,洪維浩突然想到,既然沒人邀他,何不自行組團邀請別人;讓他意想不到的是,這個嘗試十分成功,他組建了爵士樂隊 World Jazz Quintet,有韓國、日本、美國成員,今年更登上皇后區表演藝術中心 (Queensborough Performing Arts Center) 表演,並融合了爵士和中國曲目「望春風」,碰撞出奇妙的火花。他還推出了參與作曲和演奏的爵士樂專輯「Before Dawn」。

洪維浩說,非洲裔較情緒化,通過即興演奏將情緒表露出來,是他們的優勢;但亞裔相對地有條理。通過學習非洲裔爵士樂的優點,了解他們不足的同時,發揚亞裔的優點,讓他走出了一條屬於自己的爵士之路。

Copyright © 2018 World Journal. All rights reserved.


All About Jazz

June 11th, 2018 / Troy Dostert

Taiwanese pianist Francis Hon didn't plan on becoming a jazz musician. But, during his doctoral studies in piano performance at the University of Texas, he met Jeff Hellmer, Director of Jazz Studies at the university, and that connection initiated Hon's pathway into the world of jazz—one he further explored during an eventual move to New York to intensively study jazz at NYU. On Before Dawn, his debut trio album, Hon shows that his thorough immersion in jazz has been time well spent.

Joined by veteran drummer Billy Drummond and fellow up-and-comer, bassist Jeong Hwan Park, Hon offers four of his own compositions and three others, Bobby Hutcherson's "Little B's Poem," Alec Wilder and Morty Palitz's "While We're Young," and Michael Jackson's "Stranger in Moscow." With a confident, graceful tone and a smart harmonic sensibility, Hon reveals his ample debt to Bill Evans, the warm romanticism of "While We're Young" making that parallel unmistakable. So, too, does Hon's predilection for waltzes, as three of the pieces utilize a 3/4 time-signature to excellent effect. It helps that Hon's partners Drummond and Park provide rhythmically supple support, with tasteful interjections that don't get in the way of Hon's ideas. Park's nimble basswork is especially worthy of mention, as he generates a good deal of the momentum on "Little B's Poem," where his adroit lines are the perfect complement to Hon's runs. Hon and Park have played together previously in another of Hon's projects, the World Jazz Quintet, and their synchronicity is abundantly evident in their rapport throughout the record.

Although most of the music on Before Dawn fits comfortably in the modern straight-ahead piano-trio vein, Hon does reveal a bit of his interest in other idioms, whether on "Morning Star," an impressionistic solo piece with a classical temperament, or his take on pop music with "Stranger in Moscow," reminiscent of the kind of reworkings pianists like Vijay Iyer and Brad Mehldau have tackled. But while these endeavors may bear more fruit for Hon in the future, for now he seems to find his sweet-spot right in the middle of the jazz spectrum, as his work on the album's title track makes clear. Built around a lovely tune, with Drummond and Park providing that insistent waltz tempo with which Hon thrives, it furnishes the perfect opportunity for Hon to delve deeply into the jazz tradition. And, with his harmonic concept at its most sophisticated, it's the record's best evidence that Hon has a promising career ahead of him in this music.

Copyright © 2018 All About Jazz. All rights reserved.


Bird is the Worm

May 30th, 2018 / Dave Sumner

I do really try to stay away from the approach of comparing one artist to another… especially a modern artist with one from the classic jazz age.  But this lovely set from pianist Francis Hon had me thinking wistfully about how long it had been since I’d given a Duke Pearson recording a spin.  Hon has a way of gently coaxing a melody to resonate with impressive strength.  Much of the album echoes the hard bop era, but there’s some modern influence that makes its presence felt, too.  Hell of a nice debut.  Hon is joined by bassist Jeong Hwan Park and drummer Billy Drummond.  Music from Brooklyn, NY.

Copyright © 2018 Bird is the Worm. All rights reserved.


Textura

April 2018

Had Brad Mehldau not already taken the title The Art of the Trio, Francis Hon might have considered using it in place of the comparatively less proclamatory Before Dawn. On the fifty-minute release, the Taiwan-born pianist raises the piano trio tradition to a level of high art with elegant, classically infused playing superbly complemented by the contributions of acoustic bassist Jeong Hwan Park and drummer Billy Drummond. It's hard not to hear Bill Evans in Hon's playing (especially when he expresses a particular affinity for a prototypical Evans waltz such as “Alice in Wonderland”), but while he's obviously been influenced by him and others Hon's personalized approach shows him to be more than a mere follower or clone.

The groundwork for this recording began long ago. Hon, who undertook classical study at the age of six, moved to the US in 2011 to pursue a doctorate in piano performance at the University of Texas in Austin; during that time, his love for jazz blossomed, and an intense study of Nikolai Kapustin's solo piano music, notable for merging classical and jazz idioms, evolved into something of a blueprint for Hon's own approach. The degree completed, a subsequent move to New York City to attend the jazz studies master program at New York University found Hon studying and playing with John Scofield, Don Friedman, Alan Broadbent, and Drummond, among others. As steeped in the jazz tradition as Hon is, he's not averse to letting other influences seep into his music, whether it be a song by Michael Jackson, ballad by Diana Krall, or soundtrack by Dario Marianelli.

As mentioned, Hon's an elegant player, and one noticeably sensitive to harmony and melody. There's little evidence of dissonance in his playing, and while there's exuberance aplenty it never lacks for control. There's a mellifluous quality to the album material, which could be called lounge music of a particularly exquisite kind. As pleasurable as it is to listen to Hon, the rapport between the three provides as much pleasure. Drummond in particular impresses as an excellent partner to the pianist, the drummer's playing always sensitively attuned to the moment and as tasteful as the leader's; consider the lovely cymbal shadings and hi-hat accents he adds to the closing bars of “Little B's Poem” and his playing in the graceful, waltz-styled title track as simply two illustrations of Drummond's artistry. Park's no slouch either, as exemplified by the solid anchoring he brings to the material and the lively solos he contributes throughout.

Four Hon originals are featured alongside pieces by Bobby Hutcherson, Alec Wilder and Morty Palitz, and Michael Jackson, with the vibraphonist's rousing “Little B's Poem” establishing a high bar at the outset and providing an excellent vehicle for the pianist's chiming expressions and the others' supple accompaniment. Hon's mix of ascending single-line patterns and chords lends the radiant waltz a buoyant character that makes it an ideal scene-setter. Instating the trio's democratic approach early on, concise solos are taken by Park and Drummond that never arrest the flow but if anything bolster it. A lithe, samba-like feel animates “Blue Moon,” Drummond again enhancing Hon's playing with an inspired array of textures and colourations, after which the forcefully swinging “Momentarily” adds a Latin dimension to the proceedings. Much like a nightclub date, a solo piano performance appears that in the case of “Morning Star” casts the leader in a resplendent light with wistful and in places blues-tinged lead melodies animated by rippling right-hand patterns. After a rather Evans-like rendering of “While We're Young,” the trio caps the recording with a smooth cover of Jackson's “Stranger in Moscow” that's clearly more informed by funk and R&B than jazz.

Though the tracks were laid down at studios in New Jersey and various New York locations, the recording plays very much like a quintessential club date, the kind of set one could imagine Hon and company performing at Iridium or The Blue Note. Contributing to that impression are the many changes in mood, pacing, dynamics, and style that emerge over the course of the album. Close your eyes while listening to Before Dawn and you might begin to hear echoes of the appreciative applause that no doubt would arise during a live presentation of the material.

Copyright © 2018 textura. All rights reserved.


Contemporary Fusion Review

February 19th, 2018 / Dick Metcalf, Editor

Francis plays high-energy jazz piano, and is joined by Jeong Hwan Park on bass and Billy Drummond doing drums on this most exciting March, 2018 debut jazz release! 

Originally from Taipei, Taiwan, Francis moved to the U.S. in 2011, and used his well-honed piano chops (he started playing classical piano at the age of six) at the University of Texas at Austin to explore ever-expanding musical vibrancy… as you listen to his strident style on the 5:58 “Momentarily” (samples aren’t active yet, but when they go live, you’ll be able to access them), you’ll hear the fruits of his studies in jazz… this is certainly one of the most fresh jazz originals I’ve heard (yet) in 2018… the recording quality is excellent, and the players are all at the top of their game, to be sure.

You can get a splendid intimate look at the trio in action on the video Francis produced for the album as part of his Kickstarter campaign……very nicely produced, as is the album itself.  In fact, that’s one of the things that really stands out on this release… each & every note is crisp and clear, and full of the vibrant life that jazz demands.  While you’re on Francis’s YouTube page, be sure and subscribe to his channel.

The “proof is in the pudding”, as they say, and as you listen to Francis perform on “Morning Star“, another original composition, you will realize that he has clearly achieved his goal of melding his classical background with some of the most pertinent jazz on the scene today.  I believe you will be hearing much more from this young player, so keep your ears on him.

From a jazz perspective, though, it’s another of Francis’s original compositions that won my vote for personal favorite of the seven tunes offered up for your aural enjoyment… the 8:06 “Blue Moon” highlights each of the instruments fully, and each of the players offer you their total energy and talent… you’ll be hitting “replay” often for this great tune! 

I give Francis and his musical cohorts a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99.  Get more information about Francis and the album at the Francis Hon website. Rotcod Zzaj

Copyright © 2018 Contemporary Fusion Reviews. All rights reserved.


【勇敢追夢】古典鋼琴博士叛逃 紐約改玩爵士

October 13th, 2016 / 蘋果新聞

「我害怕我四五十歲某一天早上醒來,想要彈一首爵士的時候,卻發現自己不會!」來自台灣、今年33歲的洪維浩(Francis Hon)學習了一輩子的古典鋼琴,來到美國卻被爵士樂迷住,毅然決然到紐約大學進修爵士鋼琴碩士,他說:「美國的神奇之處,就在於每個音樂系所,都可以學習爵士鋼琴!」他應邀出席10月14日晚間7點新約克人的音樂 (TWNY MUSIC GUILD:TMG) 「美好的世界」音樂會,與美國的爵士樂手同台獻藝。

洪維浩5年前到美國德州奧斯汀學院進修古典鋼琴博士,但始終放不下爵士夢,他說在美國學習爵士樂並不容易,尤其是和黑人一起玩爵士:「我跟他們一起練習,總是很難找到他們的節奏。他們的樂感是與生俱來的,很多爵士迷只恨自己不是個黑人,不然玩起爵士就會容易很多!」

他說黑人玩爵士很輕鬆、習慣「laid-back(放鬆)」,學古典音樂的人卻習慣「往前」,每當他一往前傾,就會被糾正「搶拍」,他花了很多時間調適其中差異,另外,學古典音樂出身的他會注意彈奏的每一個音符,卻有人跟他說:「我不在乎你彈的音,我只在乎『感覺』。」即將從紐約大學畢業的他,已經在著手自己的音樂專輯,預計明年就會推出作品。

紐約作為現代音樂及藝術的聚集地,吸引了來自世界各地的音樂家,城市裡自由奔放的氣息,也促進了爵士樂發展。在TWNY的樂團裡,有來自台灣乃至亞洲,以及美國各地的音樂人,包括黃種人、白人、黑人,比如這次一同參演的黑人歌手Xavier McKnight,有一副與生俱來的好嗓子,年紀輕輕的他笑說:「不管現在的政治現狀多糟糕,你一聽這首歌就會覺得,這個世界還是那麼美好!」

TWNY這次將於10月14日晚間7點推出「樂」在紐約系列 (From Taiwan to New York City) 第三場音樂會「美好的世界」,執行長蔡榮昭表示,TWNY收到了很多自發申請參加的音樂人的作品。經過反復的篩選,挑選出了這次的曲目,集結了紐約流行樂壇,及爵士樂界的多位傑出演奏家及歌者,也邀請到才華洋溢,受到美國及台灣多位知名音樂家賞識的年輕作曲家胡宇君( Ms. Chloe YuChun Hu),專門為這場音樂會譜寫了一首特別歌曲,作為驚喜獻給觀眾。(王筱辰洋/紐約報導)

Copyright © 2016 Apple Daily. All rights reserved.