WONG WING TSAN|
Pianist and composer Wong Wing Tsan is the leading figure in Japan's New Age
Music scene. His music, often referred to as "healing music", touches the
hearts of many with its power to heal the tired and wounded soul. Wong, who
enjoys the adoration of countless fans, was born in Kobe, Japan in 1949. He
started his professional career as a musician at the age of nineteen playing
Jazz, Soul and Modern Music. A meditative experience in 1988 led to his
discovery of the music in him, prompting him to set up Satowa Music in 1991.
He has since released 13 CDs from his label, each album a long-seller, while
remaining true to his philosophy of distancing himself from commercialism,
releasing music that he believes in and none other.
Wong's performances over these last 2 decades focus mainly on his
improvisational work on the solo piano, spreading out into different
territories ranging from classic Japanese children's songs to Jazz.
In 1997, he wrote the theme song for The NHK (Japan Broadcasting
Corporation, Japan's non-commercial, public broadcasting system) Special,
( A Portrait of the Family) TV series. In 1998, he reunited with the
original members of his band from 30 years ago to form the Jazz trio WIM and
released albums WIM in 1999 and WIM2, On THE SMALL ROAD in 2001. Wong flew
to Bosnia in 1999 to cover the landmine problem. He wrote the music to a
poem written by a young Bosnian girl. The song, entitled "If There Were No
Mines ", was used as the campaign song for a Landmine Victims Assistance
program. A special four track CD of the same title was also released in
2000. More recently, he wrote the theme song to "Kokorono Jidai "
Age of the Heart ") on NHK's Education Channel. He is constantly touring
all around Japan as well as making frequent concert performances abroad.
Wong's solo piano interlaced with soulful improvisations is what makes his
piano unique. The beauty in his flowing improvisations on the classic
Japanese children's songs is what captivates the listeners' ears. People
are moved to tears by the depths of the purity in his feelings when they
first listen to his album Doh Yoh@(a collection of classic Japanese
children's songs). The improvised phrases created by Wong are filled with
unbound forgiveness, which is what reaches out to people and touches them.
Wong forgives all that takes place in this world by playing the piano. He
forgives all those that listen and accepts himself for who he is.
As is apparent by listening to WIM2 On The Small Road, Wong's improvisations
are what make his Jazz original. When Wong plays Jazz, he grows a pair of
wings with which he tells his own story as he soar the skies freely, riding
the air current as he pleases and stopping at times to listen to his
His message is the pillar that upholds his music, which is why his is a
never-ending story. His story includes episodes of Wong's father who came
from Hong Kong to Japan as an immigrant, and of Wong in his youth, traveling
by boat to Hong Kong in search of his roots. Who was he and where did he
come from? His music is filled with the quiet confidence of a man who has
transcended the concept of nationality, a state of mind that is achieved
after one has come to terms with his identity.
Even though Wong started his musical career as a Jazz musician, he later
became known as the Master of New Age Music. It is my belief that the
essence behind this title and the qualities of an improvisation artist are
rooted in Jazz. Jazz demands the "here " and "now " from a performer and
tells him to bare his soul. One cannot be an improvisation artist if he
refuses to come to terms with the good and the bad within himself.
It is only of recent years that he finally felt that it was time to start
playing Jazz again. That both original members Wong played together with 30
years ago immediately responded to his call must have surely been a gift
from above. The unification of the three members sublimated the Jazz they
made from "a process of picking up the pieces from their youth " to one of
"fulfilling the lost dreams from their youth ".
By Yo Nakagawa
Translated Kyoko Matsuda