Faith Yang's sixth album, The Savory Collection Vol 2 and Ge Gan-Ru's symphony

File photo of Faith Yang. The singer can often come across as cold, but she seems to be melting quite a bit on her sixth studio album.
File photo of Faith Yang. The singer can often come across as cold, but she seems to be melting quite a bit on her sixth studio album.PHOTO: ROCK RECORDS/ASIAMUSE

Taiwan's Faith Yang can often come across as cold, but the ice queen seems to be melting quite a bit on her sixth studio album.

Reportedly inspired by the astronomical concept of the Roche limit - the minimum distance to which a large satellite can approach its primary body without being torn apart by tidal forces - Centrifugal Force pulls you in inexorably.

Over a gentle piano accompaniment, she issues an invitation on the title track: "Come closer another inch/And I'll believe you". The vulnerability is devastating when she sings: "Don't embrace, you musn't kiss/I'll shatter, never be whole again".

Musically, there are some surprises here.



    Faith Yang

    AsiaMuse Entertainment

Zhuan Shen (Turn Around) is an electro track which flirts with the spoken word, while Fen Bi Zuo De Shou (Hands Made Of Chalk) is an unabashed EDM number. And Yan Yu (An Affair) seems to take place in some romantic European location, given the orchestral arrangement.

Fittingly, the album ends with the poignant Tui Kai Shi Jie De Men (Push Open The Doors Of The World). It sounds like an epiphany, suggesting Yang is ready to open up like never before.

Boon Chan

The second volume of the Savory Collection, named after sound engineer William Alcott Savory, who bootlegged hundreds of radio broadcasts, is a must-have for fans of Count Basie and Lester Young.



    National Jazz

    Museum in Harlem

    Apple Music

    5/5 stars

The 22 tracks, most clocking in at under four minutes each, are shorter than some of the epic tracks on Volume 1. But they capture the Count Basie Orchestra of the late 1930s, playing live in New York at the same time that they were making the classic records with labels such as Columbia and Decca.

Count Basie by then had perfected his piano style, sparse but with that urgent swing kick, and Young's distinctively lyrical style of saxophone playing had also matured. The result was pure jazz alchemy when Count Basie added Young to his orchestral line-up.

Just one track here, Blue And Sentimental, would have made this a must-have for Young fans, as it features the musician playing the clarinet for a brief glorious snippet.

But it is also Basie's acclaimed rhythm section - with guitarist Freddie Green, bassist Walter Page and drummer Papa Jo Jones powering the band's distinctive stomp beats - that makes this music sound so urgent and vital.

An astonishingly vibrant document of jazz giants at their peak.

Ong Sor Fern

Ge Gan-Ru (born 1954), a native of Shanghai and now resident of New York, has been described as China's first avant-garde composer.



    Royal Scottish National Orchestra / Tsung Yeh

    Naxos 8.570609

    4.5/5 stars

There is, however, little that is avant-garde about his vast programmatic symphony, Shanghai Reminiscences, premiered by the Shanghai Philharmonic in 2009 to mark the People's Republic of China's 60th anniversary.

The two-part My Childhood and Cultural Revolution is completely tonal and unfolds like a movie soundtrack based on a semi-autobiographical novel of the composer's life.

Amid the quotes of old Chinese melodies heard in his youth and the sounds of temple bells and taxi horns, a solo violin played by Maya Iwabuchi represents the composer as he makes his journey to the West and an eventual return back home.

In Revolutionary March, the rampage by the Red Guards resembles a manic minor-key version of the Disney tune, It's A Small World After All.

Tagged on is Ge's Butterfly Overture, a sanguine tribute to Ge's teacher Chen Gang, who was one half of the composing team responsible for the Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto.

The performances by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, conducted by the Singapore Chinese Orchestra's music director, Yeh Tsung (himself of Shanghainese origin), are vividly recorded.

Chang Tou Liang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 11, 2017, with the headline 'Hot Tracks'. Print Edition | Subscribe