Asian Improv Records
- Loren Kajikawa
Record label based in San Francisco, California. Founded by Jon Jang and Francis Wong in 1987, it was inspired by African American musicians, including Charles Mingus, Max Roach, Sun Ra, and members of Chicago’s AACM, who turned to self-production as a way to maintain creative control of their work. With its name derived from the phrase “Asian American Improvised Music,” the label initially functioned as an outlet for recordings by Jang and pianist Glenn Horiuchi, two early leaders in ASIAN AMERICAN JAZZ. In 1988, Jang and Wong created Asian Improv Arts, a nonprofit organization promoting performances by Asian American artists, many of whom record with the label.
Early Asian Improv releases reflect the concerns of the Asian American consciousness movement, such as combating anti-Asian violence and gaining redress and reparations for Japanese Americans incarcerated during World War II. In the 1990s, however, the label began broadening its roster to reflect a greater diversity of artistic and ethnic viewpoints, including a greater engagement with music and musicians from Asian countries. Although primarily devoted to creating space in the recording industry for Asian American voices, the record label has fostered collaboration across racial lines. For example, African American musicians Fred Anderson, Joseph Jarmon, James Newton, Max Roach, and numerous others have released recordings with Asian Improv or appeared on recordings by its artists....