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Zhongyu is an American band with a Chinese name and an attitude that encompasses the full spectrum of musical sounds and sources. Composer Jon Davis teams up with three members of Moraine and an experienced jazz drummer to create a sound that blends influences from Rock in Opposition (Univers Zero and Present), progressive rock (King Crimson), jazz (electric Miles Davis and composers such as George Russell), and Asian music. Whether it involves plugging a traditional Chinese instrument into a modular synthesizer or running a bass clarinet through a wah-wah pedal, pushing boundaries (or denying their existence) is the core of the band’s identity. "Zhongyu" means "finally" in Mandarin Chinese, and Jon chose it for the project’s name because he “finally has a band.” He has been making music since the '70's, in everything from classic-rock cover bands (before it was classic) to punk rock to electronic experiments. Living in Beijing for three years provided the inspiration for assembling a crew to realize his singular dream of a music that combined all these elements. They are a group that aims to balance the opposites of music: composition and improvisation, serenity and chaos, harmony and dissonance, complexity and simplicity, acoustic and electric. With guitarist Dennis Rea on board as co-producer and legendary engineer Steve Fisk at the controls, Zhongyu is a powerful, brilliantly executed, and strikingly original debut album that has been years in the making.
TRACKSClick on any highlighted track title to listen to individual audio samples, or listen to them all on the player to the right.
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JON DAVIS: Chapman Stick, guzheng, Mellotron, ARP 2600
DENNIS REA: Electric guitar, resonator guitar
ALICIA DeJOIE: Electric violin
JAMES DeJOIE: Baritone saxophone, flute, bass clarinet
RANDY DOAK: Drums, percussion
with Special Guest:
DANIEL BARRY: Trumpet (Track 11)
All titles composed and arranged by Jon Davis (BMI)
Produced by Jon Davis and Dennis Rea
Recorded by Steve Fisk at Sound House and Arundel Gardens, Seattle
Mixed by Steve Fisk at Arundel Gardens in association with Jon Davis and Dennis Rea
Mastered by Steve Turnidge at UltraViolet Studio
Executive Producer: Leonardo Pavkovic
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Zhongyu began life as a studio project to bring the compositions of Jon Davis to life. Fellow Seattle resident and good friend Dennis Rea (http://dennisrea.com/) was the first on board. His long resume in rock and jazz indicates a versatility that suits the wide-ranging music.

His bandmates from Moraine (http://www.moraineband.com/), Alicia DeJoie (violin) and Jame DeJoie (various woodwinds) (http://www.joiemusic.com/) bring similarly broad backgrounds to bear. Randy Doak is the drummer, and he too has a long history of playing in adventurous bands (including some with Dennis).

The mix of different instruments provides one of the band's unique features: flute, baritone sax, and bass clarinet provide varying tone colors; Jon's Stick is a solid presence in the low end, anchoring the pieces with muscular bass lines; and Jon's guzheng imparts a flavor of China as well as the delicacy of plucked strings. The guzheng, ancestor of the Japanese koto (which is perhaps better known in the West), is played in a number of non-traditional ways, including bowed and hammered, with and without electronic effects. Whether executing complex composed parts or improvising freely, Zhongyu is an exercise in contrasts and open-minded creativity.

Image: MoonJune Records recording artists, Zhongyu.



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