Wong, Francis

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Wong, Francis

Wong, Francis, American woodwind instrumentalist, composer; b. San Francisco, Calif., April 13, 1957. Starting on violin at the age of 10, he moved on to the sax by the end of junior high. In 1987, he began investigating numerous indigenous instruments of Asia, like the shinobue, yokobue, and erhu. Although the tenor saxophone is his primary axe, Wong’s also an expressive composer-improviser on flute, clarinet, and violin.

He founded The Great Wall Quartet (with Jang, Mark Izu, E.W. Wainwright Jr., and Hafez Modirzadeh) in 1990 to perform jazz tunes, original works, pieces by contemporary Asian American composers, and Chinese classical and folk material. After releasing the group’s inaugural effort in 1993, he has appeared as a leader or co-leader on six other albums. He has also collaborated on a number of Jon Jang and Glenn Horiuchi recordings, and performed live with such luminaries as James Newton, George Lewis, and Cecil Taylor. In addition to his work as a composer-performer, he heads Asian Improv Arts in San Francisco, an organization which sponsors showcases for Asian American musicians and artists, including the annual Asian American Jazz Festival and Asian Improv Records. He is also a four- time grant recipient from the Calif. Arts Council Artist in Residency program and is on the faculty at San Francisco State Univ. and the New Coll. of Calif. He is currently working on a large ensemble concept with vocalist /writer Genny Lim.


Great Wall (1993); Ming (1995); Chicago Time Code (1995); Duets I (1996); Urban Reception (1996); Devotee (1997); Pilgrimage (1997).

—Sam Prestianni

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