Chien Chien Lu’s Path is Solid

Chien Chien Lu is a jazz vibraphonist, contemporary percussionist, and composer from Taiwan who has recently stepped forward as a composer and leader with her own quartet. Classically trained, she started her career as a percussionist, but jazz and other influences led her to the vibraphone and New York.

Chien Chien Lu had her first exposure to music when she started learning the piano at the age of six. At the age of ten, she developed a passion for percussion. In 2008, She joined the world renowned Ju Percussion Group and performed throughout Taiwan, China, Japan, Thailand, Singapore. Chien Chien collaborated with composer Ching-Mei Lin and performed her marimba concerto for six-mallet marimba and in 2014 was awarded as “Emerging Young Artist” for her work with her marimba duo.

In 2017, she graduated with a Master of Music in Jazz Studies from the University of the Arts. In August, she attended the prestigious Banff Jazz Residency under the direction of well-known jazz pianist, Vijay Iyer. Things moved along the following year when she joined Jeremy Pelt’s Quintet and recorded on his critically acclaimed record “Jeremy Pelt The Artist ”.  After the release, she toured extensively with Jeremy Pelt quintet throughout Europe and the U.S.  All the recognition and accomplishment led up to her first solo release this past year, The Path.

The Path stars with a tribute to one of America’s best known jazz-funk vibraphonists, Roy Ayers’ on “We Live in Brooklyn Baby”. Arranging an Ayers tune falls right in Chien Chien’s wheelhouse. While a grad student at Philadelphia’s University of the Arts, she joined Philly-favorites Vertical Current in an Ayers tribute show. Few combined jazz, funk and soul quite like Ayers, and if  The Path is an indication, Ayers’ universalist approach to genre is something Chien Chien aspires to.  She ends the album with the organ-soaked tune “Mo’ Better Blues” made famous by Branford Marsalis from the movie soundtrack of the same name.  The vibes have once again come to the forefront of jazz with other young players including Stefon Harris and Warren Wolf, but Chien Chien draws from the masters as well including Milt Jackson and Roy Ayers.  From classical to jazz, from classic to contemporary, from Taiwan to the U.S., Lu seems to have a very solid footing on her current path.   – Carol Handley/


More From NPR Music