David Hajdu of The Nation HERE: Jen Shyu is "...one of the most creative vocalists in contemporary improvised music..."

New York Times "Best Albums of 2015 by Ben Ratliff" HERE: Sounds and Cries of the World, Jen Shyu and Jade Tongue (Pi) - "The singer Ms. Shyu represents a new kind of improviser-composer-ethnomusicologist hybrid; this is the result of her own fieldwork (in East Timor, Indonesia, Taiwan and South Korea), pushed through an extraordinary voice and a circle of high-level improvisers." - Ben Ratliff, NY Times (Listen to Popcast and read feature article HERE)

The Nation's "Ten Best Albums of 2015" by David Hajdu HERE: Sounds and Cries of the World, Jen Shyu and Jade Tongue - "A singer like no other, Shyu is both lyrical and wildly adventurous, producing sounds in languages as diverse as English and Javanese, Korean, and Tetum (spoken on the divided island of Timor), all of which combine to produce a beautiful language of her own passionate invention." David Hajdu for The Nation

Solo Rites: Seven Breaths EPK with Garin Nugroho interview  HERE
Roulette TV’s interview of Shyu HERE

Download BIO
Download CV

Press / high res photos for download:

Inner Chapters (2012):
High Res 1 - credit Witjak Widhi Cahya

Solo Rites: Seven Breaths (2014):
High Res 2 - credit Steven Schreiber
High Res 3
- credit Nah Seung Yeol
High Res 4
- credit Ryu Ijun
High Res 5
- credit Ryu Ijun

From Hengchun Township to the Stage (2015):
High Res 6 - credit Lynn Lane
High Res 7 - credit Lynn Lane
High Res 8 - credit Lynn Lane

Song of Silver Geese (2016):
High Res 9 - credit Steven Schreiber
High Res 10 - credit Steven Schreiber


Photo: Lynn Lane

Interview w/ Won Il/ Korean Gugak Radio / TV

Jen interviewed on Hawaiian TV



"Jen Shyu's performance utterly clouded any boundaries between east and west, composition and improvisation, music and theatre....Here she was collaborating with Australia's pre-eminent improvising drummer, Simon Barker, the pair having met in Korea, with both being steeped in that country's rich pansori music and story-telling tradition.... When she sang in English, her words had a strikingly oneiric quality, and when she was singing in another language one could revel in her sophisticated vocal control, her flexibility and her tonal beauty.... This was a sensational collaboration that could become even stronger as Shyu approaches the vanishing point on the horizon where genre is discarded altogether."-- John Shand, The Sydney Morning Herald, on Solo Rites: Seven Breaths with Australian drummer Simon Barker, August 20, 2016 (Read HERE

"It also happened, in a more solemn way, at the end of the set by the multidisciplinary artist Jen Shyu. Her hourlong performance was a condensed version of “Song of Silver Geese,” her new work in progress, which she has described as a “ritual music drama.” 

To describe it first means explaining that Ms. Shyu brings voice, movement, and musicianship to it: she played piano, as well as the zither-like Korean instrument the gayageum and the Taiwanese moon lute. (All of that, the singing, moving and playing, she gave the same elegant decisiveness.) And next, that it involves seven languages, including Javanese, Taiwanese and English, for a variety of texts - some ancient, some Ms. Shyu’s own, some written by friends. It portrays various characters through the text, through the music - for an improvising quintet and the strings of the Mivos Quartet, reading notated passages - and through the movements of the Japanese dancer Satoshi Haga, who started his work long before the first notes of the piece, moving ultra-slowly toward the stage.

Inclusive as the Vision Festival may be, a piece of such depth, complexity and precision needs more specialized attention. For starters, better sound than the echoey Judson Memorial Church can provide. After that, maybe a libretto, if not supertitles. But toward the end of the performance, a line of seven women approached the stage with ritual purpose, bearing trays of tea lights (battery operated, not the open-flame kind), and did something that felt very Vision: they arranged the hundreds of little lights all over the stage, creating a moment of beauty bigger than music itself. During that sequence, Ms. Shyu sang some lines in English, sounding modern, not ancient: “Life has no boundaries/when every place can be home." - Ben Ratliff, New York Times, on Song of Silver Geese at Vision Festival 21, June 2016 (Read HERE)

"Last night at Roulette she celebrated her birthday by unveiling a bracingly dynamic, otherworldly surrealistic, envelopingly beautiful new suite, Song of Silver Geese, a characteristically multilingual work..." by Delarue, New York Music Daily on Song of Silver Geese at Roulette's premiere March 28, 2016 (Read HERE)

"Shyu's music is intensely personal. Nothing sounds quite like it...Jen Shyu's music operates in some unpatrolled border zone, blurring lines between folk song and art song, the traditional and the avant-garde, Western and Eastern, between waking consciousness and dream logic. Her album, "Sounds and Cries Of The World" is no drive-by encounter between musical cultures, no cherry picking of exotic licks. This is research and experience, absorbed and reimagined." - Kevin Whitehead for NPR's Fresh Air (Listen HERE)

"Along with the five languages Ms. Shyu speaks here is an unspoken one—the improvised lingua franca of jazz’s most accomplished musicians that connects her influences and animates her ambitions.... Remarkable as her achievements with her ensemble are, Ms. Shyu is especially riveting on that track ["Song for Naldo"], simply strumming her lute and singing. Her voice, a wonder of technical control and unrestrained emotion, tells a story dotted with well-researched facts and wild poetic allusions. She claims both as her truths."- Larry Blumenfeld, Wall Street Journal, on Pi Recordings' Sounds and Cries of the World, 2015 (Read HERE)

"Jen Shyu, whose new album “Sounds and Cries of the World” comes out this week, is an improvising singer of great accomplishment who leads a band including some of the best improvising musicians in the United States: the trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, the violist Mat Maneri, the bassist Thomas Morgan, the drummer Dan Weiss." - Ben Ratliff, NY Times "Popcast" with Jon Caramanica (Listen HERE)

"The singer Jen Shyu, singing parts of her piece “Solo Rites: Seven Breaths” in Korean and English, playing various lutes and zithers and percussion instruments, combined movement, acting, singing, and playing into long-form songs that could remind you of ancient court music or Joni Mitchell. Everything she did - every turn, every breath - came with mindful emphasis.” - Ben Ratliff, NY Times, on Solo Rites: Seven Breaths at Winter Jazz Fest, 2015 (Read HERE)

"Jen Shyu is a breathtakingly beautiful woman with a vocal technique that would make her the envy of Met Opera stars and a stage presence that is so charming, she makes you gasp with pleasure. Combining languages from Taiwan, Korea, East Timor and a couple of other far-eastern countries, she incorporates English translations into her renditions of folk tales and poems. On the surface, they appear to be of distant cultures, but because of her rare talents as a singer, actor and instrumentalist, she manages to draw us into those realms and feel we’re hearing a story from our own ancestors." - June LeBell, Your Observer News on Solo Rites: Seven Breaths at Ringling International Arts Festival 2015 (Read HERE)

"The gasps of the appreciative audience were both audible and entirely suitable. What could have been a routine exercise in modern cliché became infinitely meaningful, even therapeutic, in the cumulative impact of an unforgettable performance." - Richard Storm, Herald-Tribune Sarasota, on Solo Rites: Seven Breaths at Ringling International Arts Festival 2015 (Read HERE)

“Her voice was remarkable, moving from a whispering, almost silent, call to a wailing goddess, and then into a straight singing and dancing spirit.” - Ken Vermes, Jazz Police, on Solo Rites: Seven Breaths at Center for New Music, 2015 (Read HERE)

“I suppose there have been other people like JEN SHYU: disciplined vocalists who speak and sing in multiple languages, work with improvisation and composition and movement, feel at home both with quick-change rhythmic patterns and meditative long tones, use narrative poetry as a basis for songs, and use a two-stringed Taiwanese moon lute in a New Yorkish and vanguardish jazz context. I just can't think of any right now. Instead of thinking about her categorically, you can focus on how beautifully and generously she uses sound.” - Ben Ratliff, NY Times (Read HERE)

“The vocalist’s control is remarkable, weaving odd serpentines from low, guttural plunges to the crystalline shimmer of “Kind Of Nine.”” –Shaun Brady, Downbeat Magazine, on Pi Recordings’ Synastry with Mark Dresser, 2011 (Read HERE)

“Shyu is a remarkable phenomenon, shifting registers with startling ease and tonal resourcefulness, moving from conventional pitching to a yodel-like ambiguity without fuss. She blends fragile, light sounds with dark, low notes, ruminative hummings and improv in a personal language that fuses English, Taiwanese, Mandarin and several others.” - John Fordham, The Guardian, on Synastry, 2011 (Read HERE)

“Shyu matches their [David Binney, Shane Endsley, Dan Weiss] virtuosity and sings with palpable nerve, her enunciation of Chinese an outflow of unpredictable timbres….It's a remarkable achievement, with rich theatrical implications for the concert setting.” - David Adler, Time Out, on Jade Tongue, 2009 (Read HERE)

“Shyu deftly integrates ethnographical research with innovative new musical structures, producing work that is both cerebral and visceral.”- Wilbur Mackenzie, All About Jazz, on Jade Tongue, 2009 (Read HERE)

International PRESs:

(Australian) ABC's Music Show 8/20/16 HERE
(Portuguese / Angola) 5/7/2016 HERE
(Tetum / East Timor) 5/5/2016 HERE
(Polish) 6/23/2016 HERE

Sounds and Cries of the World album reviews:

  • (French) Jazz Magazine France 11/15 HERE
  • (Italian) Cultura Commestibile 4/2/2016 HERE
  • (Polish) Jazzarium 9/18/2015 HERE
  • (Portuguese) Cultura ao Minuto 10/10/2015 HERE
  • (Portuguese) Saspo24 10/10/2015 HERE
  • (Spanish) El Intruso 10/4/2015 HERE
  • (UK) Morning Star 4/19/2016 HERE
  • (Japanese) Jazz Tokyo 6/1/2016 HERE

From Taiwan's Hengchun Township to the Stage (Asia Society Texas Center 2015) reviews:

  • (Chinese) World Journal 10/25/2015 HERE
  • (Chinese) World Journal 11/9/2015 HERE

Solo Rites:Seven Breaths reviews:

  • (English, Australia) The Sydney Morning Herald 8/20/2016 HERE
  • (German) Echo Online 12/1/2015 HERE
  • (Spanish) La Vanguardia 12/15/2015 HERE


Downbeat Magazine, Rising Star Female Vocalist of the Year, by Ken Micallef, 2017 HERE
National Sawdust's Log Journal, by Lara Pellegrinelli, 2017 HERE
Jazz Gallery's Jazz Speaks, by Tamar Sella, 2017 HERE

NewMusicBox, 2015, by Frank J. Oteri HERE
MUSEUM, 2015
WNYC “Spinning on Air” with David Garland, 2014 HERE
Asia Society “In Focus” interviews, 2014 HERE
All About Jazz interview by Daniel Lehner: “Jen Shyu and Theo Bleckmann: Breaking the Song Barrier,” 2011 HERE
Interview in the book NEW FACE OF JAZZ by Cicily Janus HERE


NBC News Asian America, Frances Kai-Hwa Wang, January, 2017 HERE
NY TIMES Music, Ben Ratliff, September, 2015 HERE
KQED Arts*, Andrew Gilbert: “Exploring the World with Jen Shyu,” 2015 HERE
Blu Notes, Larry Blumenfeld: “Jen Shyu Returns Home & Unpacks Her Ancestry,” 2014 HERE
Jakarta Post*, Ganug Nugroho Adi: “Jen Shyu: ‘Sinden’ with Improvisation,” 2013 HERE
Wall Street Journal, Larry Blumenfeld: “A Singer’s Arrival, in Her Own Words,” 2011 HERE
Downbeat Magazine*, Ted Panken: “Jen Shyu: Transcending Technique,” April 2011 issue HERE


Correction to KQED Arts article:

  • “…Jon Jang and tenor saxophonist Francis Wong pointed her to Taiwan [not “Hong Kong”], a move seconded by Steve Coleman….”

Corrections to Jakarta Post article:

  • “Bawa Sida Asih,” not “Ilir-Ilir”
  • "...of main singer Diana Morales at the repertory theater production of A Chorus Line" [not “production of Diana Morales produced by A Chorus Line”]
  • “Jen studied classical singing” [not “semi-classical music”]
  • “…became a jazz singer, while working at a small theater,” [not “became a jazz singer at a small theater”]
  • “…Jen studied folklore and salsa in Cuba for three weeks and then for one month in 2003” [not “for a year”]
  • “…led Jen to musical improvisation and her move to New York City. A year later, she sang on Coleman's album Lucidarium…” [not “she released Lucidarium
  • “…I studied Bahasa Indonesia and Javanese at Wisma Bahsa, and Javanese dance and macapat [sung poetry recitation] at Pujokusuman Studio…” [not “I learned Javanese and macapat [sung poetry recitation] at Pujokusuman Studio]
  • “…maestros in Surakarta” [not “Surakara”]
  • “…Gambyong Pangkur, which she performed with 5 other senior Javanese dancers at Mangkunegaran Palace on May 4” [not “several foreign dancers at Mangkunegaran Palace on May 5]
  • “For two months in 2009, she studied Shuo-Chang… In June, she plans to do a six-month study of Pansori, a epic narrative-song form, in Korea.” [not “In June, she plans to do a six-month study of Shuo-Chang”]

Corrections to Downbeat article:

  • It was Stravinsky International Piano Competition, not Bach Competition
  • My first CD I produced on my label featuring Francis Wong was called "For Now", not "First Song"
  • My second CD "Jade Tongue" was on my own label Chiuyen Music, not on Pi Recordings
  • the two-string guitar on my solo project "Inner Chapters" is from Taiwan (called the moon lute, or moon guitar), not from East Timor
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