The Squid's Ear Magazine

Lijiang Quintet

Crossing A River By Rope

Lijiang Quintet: Crossing A River By Rope (fo'c'sle)

A rare and exuberant exchange of sonic discourse between Chinese and American improvisers recorded in the Yunnan Province of China at the Lijiang Studio artist residency, in a uniquely voiced quintet with Theresa Wong on cello & voice, Lao Dan on saxophone & bamboo instruments, John McCowen on clarinet & recorder, Li Xing on electric & acoustic guitars, and Deng Boyu on percussion & found objects.

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product information:

UPC: 843563108147

Label: fo'c'sle
Catalog ID: FSCL-003
Squidco Product Code: 29727

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2018
Country: USA
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold 3 Panels
Recorded at Lijiang Studio, in Jixiang Village, Yunnan, China, on July 25-27, 2017, by Theresa Wong.


Theresa Wong-cello, voice

Lao Dan-saxophone, bamboo instruments

John McCowen-clarinet, recorder

Li Xing-electric guitar, acoustic guitar

Deng BoYu-percussion, found objects

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Sample The Album:

Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"Recorded in the Yunnan Province of China during a serendipitous meeting of five musicians at the Lijiang Studio artist residency in July 2017, this collection of improvisations presents a rare and exuberant exchange of sonic discourse between Chinese and American improvisers. The three members of Red Scarf, one of China's most rambunctious and radical prog rock/noise bands, ignite in a charged chemistry with cellist/vocalist Theresa Wong and clarinetist John McCowen. Their vocabulary draws upon traditional Chinese music, noise, rock, and free improvisation all with the force and purifying effect of an ancient shamanic weather front."-fo'c'sle

Artist Biographies

"Theresa Wong is a composer, cellist and vocalist active at the intersection of music, experimentation, improvisation and the synergy of multiple disciplines. Bridging sound, movement, theater and visual art, her primary interest lies in finding the potential for transformation for both the artist and receiver alike.

Her works include The Unlearning (Tzadik), 21 songs for violin, cello and 2 voices inspired by Goya's Disasters of War etchings, O Sleep, an improvised opera for an 8 piece ensemble exploring the conundrum of sleep and dream life and Venice Is A Fish, a collection of solo songs. Her commissioned works include pieces for Splinter Reeds, Vajra Voices, pianist Sarah Cahill and Del Sol string quartet. At the heart of her work is a desire to expand the sonic possibilities of materials and to explore their potential in many modes of performance.

She collaborates with many singular artists, including Fred Frith, Ellen Fullman, Luciano Chessa, Annie Lewandowski, Chris Brown, Frantz Loriot, John McCowen, Søren Kjærgaard, Carla Kihlstedt, conceptual artist Jonathon Keats and filmmaker Daria Martin. In 2018, Wong founded fo'c'sle, a record label dedicated to adventurous music from the Bay Area and beyond, featuring inaugural releases by Ellen Fullman with David Gamper and Stuart Dempster, Chris Brown, Powerdove and the Lijiang Quintet.

Wong has shared her work internationally at venues including Fondation Cartier in Paris, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, Cafe Oto in London, Festival de Arte y Ópera Contemporánea in Morelia, Mexico and The Stone and Roulette in New York City. She is the recipient of grants from the Center for Cultural Innovation, American Composers Forum, San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music and Meet The Composer. Wong is a Civitella Ranieri Foundation Fellow and has also been an artist-in-residence at the Headlands Center for the Arts and Yaddo. She currently works and resides in the San Francisco Bay Area."

-Theresa Wong Website (

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"Lao Dan was born in Chinese border city Dandong in 1987. He started on Saxophone when he was 8 and took up Chinese flute in 14 when he began majored in Chinese classical music.Lao Dan decided to make flute his primary instrument when he attended ShenYang Conservatory of Music in 2007. There he focus on playing Chinese traditional music ranging from Chinese ancient music, Wuju opera, Northern Shaanxi folk music to Local Opera. At the same time, he also involved in researching Chinese modern national music.

World music caught his ears in 2011 and he turned to the study and practice of it. Dan not only embraced Indian Bansuri, Turkish kaval, but also absorbed them into his personal style. He is skillful in changing the traditional way to play Chinese flute. It can be seen from the music of Xiban that gave a glimpse of his unique improvisational ability.

He was enchanted by Jazz since he recognized and cooperated with many jazz musicians in Shanghai. It made a big difference in his performance style when he combined Voice, Chinese Suona, Bamboo Sax, Didgeridoo, Duduk, Jaw Harp with effect pedal, which rendered his music a kaleidoscope of color. Dan jointed with Xing and Yu in Red Scarf in 2013 showed his passionate willingness in the region/ area of Experimental, Free Improvisation."

-Lao Dan Facebook Page (

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"John McCowen is a New York based composer and performer whose work focuses on extending the possibilities of the clarinet family. John embraces long-form drones, difference tones, and beating harmonics as a means to extrude the dimensionality within - treating the clarinet as an acoustic synthesizer. His works for ensemble utilize spectral techniques to superimpose the timbral/sonic characteristics of the clarinet onto a grouping of instruments. This may include the clarinet as a solo instrument while the ensemble functions as a resonant system.

John was a founding member of the Chicago avant-rock group, Wei Zhongle, where he performed on amplified clarinet/electronics. His most recent release of three compositions for solo contrabass clarinet, Solo Contra (IARC0015), is out now on International Anthem Records. His discography includes releases on International Anthem, Astral Spirits, Cairn Desk, NNA Tapes, New Atlantis, Self Sabotage, Edible Onion, and DAAANG. He has toured extensively throughout North America as well as trips to Europe and Asia. These performances/spaces include Le Guess Who Festival(NL), Norður og Niður Festival(IS), Hot Air Music Festival, Bowling Green New Music Festival, Supersonic Festival(ENG), Berkeley Art Museum(BAMPFA), The Stone, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, International Clarinet Festival 2014, and more. John was the 2017 artist-in-residence at Lijiang Studio in Yunnan, China. He received the Elizabeth Mills Crothers Award for music composition in 2016 from Mills College where he also received an MA in Music Composition."

-John McCowen Website (

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"Li Xing:

Nationality: China
Residency location: Basel
Partner organization: Musikerwohnhaus

Guitarist, composer, and music producer Li Xing was born in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia in 1987, and started learning guitar at the age of 12. He has drawn the sound languages such as Psychedelic Rock, Prog/Avant Rock, Free Jazz and Sound Art from different environments to form his own musical vocabulary. Enlightened by the relationship between Yin and Yang, his works strive to concern the relationship between the voice and the contemporary Chinese society, while utilizing techniques ranging from noise, environment, sequence, to events and incidents in support of the deliverance. His recent work "String & Wind" escapes from the characteristics of the instrumental music and visualizes a musical surface in logic, geometry, strokes, or law.

Since 2010, he developed intense interests toward the Chinese traditional folk music and national musical instruments. By the end of 2014, Li Xing recorded a more avant-garde improvisation album "X!X!X!", and formed the Prog/Avant Rock Trio Red Scarf Band the next year. The self-titled album was released by BADHEAD, an alternative brand of Modern Sky at the end of 2015. In May 2018, BADHEAD released Red Scarf's second album "They Know We Know They're Lying". This usage of wild and rough noise aesthetics as well as the broad and dark mode whirlpool balance out the stereo sense of hearing, which in turn proves Li Xing's profound comprehension and control of the sound, time, space and structure."

-Prohelvetia (

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"BoYu Deng, (邓博宇) is from Inner Mongolia. A professional drummer, who has worked with multiple bands. His works include Rock, Jazz and Improvisation. He is at the same time also a vanguard electronic Musician. Being almost obsessive about constructing a minimalistic ambiance, his works are full of exquisite and whimsy compositions which shows his characteristic aesthetic of sampling and collage."

-Discogs (

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Track Listing:

1. Swallow Signs 07:42

2. A Talk With Lashi Lake 04:44

3. Road Stone Pile 13:18

4. Crossing A River By Rope 12:06

5. Wood Rain 09:12

6. Stormy Walk From Zhiyun Temple 07:12

Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
Electro-Acoustic Improv
West Coast/Pacific US Jazz
Quintet Recordings
Cultural Musics from Around the World

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