Jeff Chan - 'Winds Shifting'
Derk Richardson | San Francisco Bay Guardian | Jan 14, 1998

Despite tight affiliations in the Bay Area's Asian American jazz scene (Francis Wong being a major influence), tenor saxophonist Jeff Chan doesn't make any obvious moves toward East-West fusion. Instead, he simply applies a beautiful, solid sax tone to inventive melodies in relatively open harmonic and rhythmic and harmonic contexts and lets the music develop freely. His impressive recording debut moves from an explicitly Ornette Coleman/Charlie Parker-influenced opener through a variety of moods and textures on lengthy compositions and improvisations: Kavee adds cello on "Dreams/Silver Skies"; Neil Straghalis plays piano on the Coltrane-like "Spiritual"; and Wong sits in on the two-tenor tempo-shifting. 14 minute "Cactus Patch", the album's lovely closing rumination. Fans of intense and meditative post-bebop acoustic jazz from the '60's and '70's will find rich rewards in Chan's alternately edgy and rhapsodic take on that tradition.

Jeff Chan - 'Winds Shifting'
Sam Prestianni | San Francisco Weekly | Jan 14-20, 1998

The company Jeff Chan keeps on Winds Shifting, his debut on the Asian Improv label, underscores his status as one of the rising twentysomething tenor saxophonists on the local jazz scene. Francis Wong, leading saxophonist of the Bay Area's Asian American Creative Music community, guests on a couple of tracks, and the album as a whole is bolstered by arguably the heaviest rhythm section in contemporary improv - Trevor Dunn (bass) and Elliot Humberto Kavee (drums/cello). The moment-to-moment surprises stirred up by the Dunn-Kavee duo provide Chan with a limitless foundation upon which to develop his meditative, deeply melodic statements. Unlike Coltrane disciples who try to mimic the great saxophonist's phrasing and tone, Chan unpretentiously affects the latter-day Trane duality of peaceful yet relentless searching. There's zero anxiousness in Chan's playing, little upper-register skronk; each extrapolation attempts to instill the music with a sense of forward pitch and energized adventure. To this end, Chan employs a variety of compositional approaches, from the Ornette Coleman-inspired ferment of "Snap, Crackle, Pop"; to the groove vamp of "Infringement"; to the hypnotic textural soundscape of "Dreams/Silver Skies", on which Kavee pairs his arco cello with Dunn's contrabass. Remarkably mature for his years, Jeff Chan's performance stands out as a model of mature musicianship.

Jeff Chan - 'Winds Shifting'
Michael Rosenstein | Cadence Magazine | October 1998

This recording, the first as a leader by Jeff Chan, is yet another sign of what a creative hotbed for improvised music San Francisco has become. Like many young players, Chan is working to absorb a multitude of styles from the history of Jazz music into his playing and writing. The core trio of Chan, Dunn, and Kavee consistently nail this music, which ranges from free bop to vamping groove to free improvisation. Chan has a knack for writing pieces that have compelling melodies, offering the basis for improvisations that swing with an open energy. Even in pieces with the loosest of frameworks like "Dreams/Silver Skies", he floats sad, flowing lyricism into the free group interplay. That piece benefits from Kavee's dual role on drums and cello (simultaneously, and without overdubbing) to expand the harmonic palette of the trio format as his skittering harmonies play off of Dunn's dark arco. "Spiritual", which at times sounds like an Ayler theme, integrates Straghalis' piano into the group in intriguing ways. Rather than the traditional harmonic and rhythmic role, Straghalis lightly layers splayed, atonal clusters into odd spaces in Chan's phrases. Even when the focus turns to the piano, he seems to play around the edges of the pulse created by the others, teasing lines out of fitful, broken phrases. The 14-minute long "Winds Shifting Coming and Going", pairs the leader's clear-toned lyricism with the round, breathy, aggressive playing of Francis Wong for an extended piece that freely moves between slow probing sections and quick, darting counterpoint. Kavee is a light-handed melodic player, giving the music a tuneful, open pulse throughout. Dunn is a flexible bassist, often playing around Kavee's pulse to provide snaking counterpoint to the reed players. This is a creative session charged with emotional directness and acute group dynamicism.

Jeff Chan - 'Winds Shifting'
Steve Vickery | Coda Magazine | November 1, 1998

Jeff Chan's trio pushes the envelope on Winds Shifting from Asian Improv, and the music takes on added resonance with the addition of guest Francis Wong, a hardblowing improviser that matches Chan's high energy (Winds Shifting Coming and Going). Tenor with rhythm section sessions always labour in the shadow of Rollins though Chan does step out as an original, most successfully on Snap, Crackle, Pop and Dreams/Silver Skies.

REEDS & BRASS
Greg Buium | Coda Magazine | November 1, 1999

All of the musicians on Winds Shifting, tenor saxophonist JEFF CHAN's first recording as a leader, are active on the San Francisco creative music scene. The CD's first half is a trio session, with Trevor Dunn on bass and Elliot Humberto Kavee on drums and cello. , while the trio becomes a quartet in the second half, with pianist Neil Straghalis sitting in for one tune and tenor saxophonist Francis Wong replacing him for the final two. Recorded in April and May of 1997, the album is made up largely of Chan compositions - including Snap, Crackle, Pop, a charming nod to Ornette Coleman, and Infringement, a haunting, shrewdly built piece for Chan's raw, slightly off-centre sound. And the final quartet pieces are electric: Wong's appearance charges Chan. The tenors barrel through two open structures, leaving with a Straghalis melody, Cactus Patch, as sweet as it is strong.