AIR Co-Founder, Saxophonist
Wong has been blessed to have an artistic career full of accomplishment and positive notice, including being considered one of "the great saxophonists of his generation" by the late jazz critic Phil Elwood. His work is well-documented on recordings, as he is featured on more than forty titles as a leader and sideman. For nearly four decades he has performed his own innovative brand of jazz and creative music for audiences in North America, Asia, and Europe with such musician luminaries as Jon Jang, Tatsu Aoki, Genny Lim, Miya Masaoka, Vijay Iyer, Jen Shyu, William Roper, Bobby Bradford, James Newton, Don Moye, Glenn Horiuchi, John Tchicai, Cecil Taylor, Max Roach, and Joseph Jarman. He is also known for groundbreaking interdisciplinary collaborations with Lenora Lee, Melody Takata, Genny Lim, and Juan Felipe Herrera. But his career as a musician/composer is inextricable from his cultural and collaborative work and activism throughout the United States, particularly the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Lancaster, PA.
His artistic explorations are rooted, both directly and indirectly, in his work as a mentor for youth and emerging artists, artistic director, community activist, music producer, and academic lecturer. A critical vehicle for his work is Asian Improv aRts, the organization he co-founded in 1987 with pianist Jon Jang, which has been widely recognized for its role in creating a distinctive Asian American/West Coast sound in creative music. His honors and awards include commissioning grants for music and for music and theater from the NEA; San Francisco Art Commision; California Arts Council Artist in Residence; and Meet The Composer (New Music USA) New Resident, and the Creative Work Fund (Walter and Elise Haas Fund and Hewlett Foundation), and the National Parks Service. I have been recognized with a Ford Foundation Mid-Career Visionary Artist Award; and as a “Jazz Hero” by the Jazz Journalists Association. In addition, he was a Rockefeller Next Generation Leadership Fellow, and have served as a Senior Fellow at the Wildflowers Institute since 1999.
“I choose for my work to build community and to seek out how I, as an artist, can meet the challenges that our community faces. In the Asian American community, the biggest challenge is continuity of culture and the impact of assimilation. Through music, I envision a way to create continuity through the integration of tradition and innovation.”
San Francisco, CA, USA
Photo courtesy of the artist