Release date: September 29, 2023
Fourteen years ago, when Canadian drummer Anthony Fung moved to Boston to attend the Berklee College of Music, his new teacher—the larger-than-life drum legend, Ralph Peterson—had something to say about a life in music. “Onward and upward,” remembers Fung—“that was his whole philosophy. Forward. Forth.”
Now with three full-length recordings as a leader already under his belt, Fung’s newest studio effort pays honest tribute to his mentor’s mantra. Set for release on September 29, 2023 it is entitled Fo(u)rth. As a concept, it features his longtime trio—of young stars Luca Alemanno, bass, and Michael Ragonese, piano—welcoming modern saxophone legend Mark Turner into their circle. As a statement, Fo(u)rth is a freshly thrilling whirl of contemporary writing and improvisation which remains gallantly off-the-cuff. “A snapshot in time,” remarks the composer, “not overthinking what’s happening.”
This philosophy of fearless forward-motion is dear to the drummer-leader. For his last record—2022’s What Does It Mean To Be Free?, which Fung produced and mixed himself during the early pandemic days—his desire was to “Capture this moment in time and not to be too precious about the music.” Fung, thusly, is a prime example of when “new school” playing meets the “old-school” mentality: you get into the studio, you press record, and you hit. As always, you forge ahead. And for your new recording, you call your hero Mark Turner and see if he’s into collaborating.
“Mark moved to LA a couple of years ago—during the pandemic,” remembers Fung. Turner was an early inspiration for the drummer. “People of our generation,” he says, “we grew up listening to a lot of Kurt Rosenwinkel, and hearing Mark on those records.” And for Fung, that saxophonist “with this wide, intervalic, leaping sound”—a well-beloved idiosyncracy of Turner’s that renders him instantly identifiable—“well, it was always captivating to me.
“I met him a few times over the years; we were really interested in talking with each other, in playing with each other. So this past December, I asked him: would you be down to record two singles with me? He goes, ‘Yeah.’
“And then, a month later, I’d written all this new music—specifically for him. I was in that mode of writing every single day—three to four hours of writing as soon as I’d wake up. All those songs were written around him; and so a week before the recording session, I tell him, ‘Hey: I wrote all this music. You still down?’” And he was. Then it wasn’t just a couple of singles anymore: it was a full record.”
A full record filled with surprise. Over the course of eight tracks—including four originals written for Turner, two drum interludes, one Monk tune, and a piano trio lullaby written for the bandleader’s father—the latest of Anthony Fung’s voice, both compositionally and on his instrument, is beautifully unfurled.
What Does It Mean To Be Free?
Release date: May 6, 2022
With the release of his third album, What Does it Mean to Be Free?, the adventurous drummer-composer Anthony Fung brings uncertainty into clarity with a striking set of colorful songs and a band of LA’s most celebrated creative voices. Joined by close musical friends David Binney, Braxton Cook, Andrew Renfroe, Marcel Camargo, and other formidable young talents, Fung delivers a set of 8 originals and one cleverly arranged Wayne Shorter composition, spanning a variety of groove-worlds while capturing both the joys and the pains of our peculiar moment in history.
Fung, born and raised in Canada, has lived out a star-studded early career since he moved to the United States. He spent several years in Boston training at Berklee College of Music’s prestigious Global Jazz Institute under the mentorship of piano icon Danilo Perez; he then relocated to California to deepen his musical study at the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance, this time under the mentorship of Herbie Hancock. These institutions impressed upon their young artists the importance of representing not just jazz music, but the unique rhythmic, harmonic, and melodic flavors from musical cultures all over the world.
In the process, Fung honed not only an expansive technique on the drum set, but also on the page. “I want to write something real,” says Fung. His commitment to serious songwriting has led him far. His last album, Flashpoint, was marked by lush string quartet arrangements, Caribbean rhythms, funky dance beats, and modern jazz textures. “Flashpoint came about when I was still at the Monk Institute. That way of thinking: a lot of world rhythms. It was a culmination of that tutelage, and that was a good time to write all that stuff and just say, ‘I’m good with it.’” On What Does it Mean to Be Free?, Fung retains this kind of global thinking, but, he says, “I wanted to push the boundaries a little more.”
After the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic postponed his originally-scheduled spring 2020 recording date, Fung went to quarantine in Canada. “For me, this record was written—except for ‘Flashpoint Revisited’ and the ballad, ‘Let us not forget to be Kind’—everything was written during the pandemic in Toronto for 6 months.” It was a deeply confusing, nerve-racking time. “I was deciding whether I should even be in the States. COVID, and Trump, and the election: pretty much everyone in the entire world was feeling stuck in some way. We’re at home, the government was telling us to stay at home. Wear a mask. Oh, we’re finally lifting the restrictions—oh, whoops, stay home.”
And so—amidst and against the longings, frustrations and angers that swelled across the world in response to the massive losses of life, global lockdowns, and racial injustices of 2020—Fung composed a new vibrant set of songs.
Release date: October 1, 2018
Tiny Room LLC is excited to celebrate the launch of their new in-house record label, “Tiny Records” with the release of Flashpoint, the new album from Canadian drummer Anthony Fung. On his sophomore album, Fung is excited to establish himself as a composer, producer and bandleader. With Fung on drums, Flashpoint features Erin Bentlage (vocals), Edmar Colon (tenor/soprano saxophones & percussion), Josh Johnson (alto saxophone), Alex Hahn (soprano saxophone), Jon Hatamiya (trombone), Isaac Wilson (piano), Simon Moullier (vibraphone), Mats Sandahl (bass) and percussionists Oscar Cruz, Oscarin Cruz, Manolo Mairena alongside a string quartet comprised of Yu-Ting Wu, Niall Ferguson, Jonathan Tang and Lauren Baba. On Flashpoint, the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance alumnus introduces and exhibits a new global aspect to the realm of jazz.
On this new release, Greg Spero of Tiny Records enthuses, “I have no doubt that you’ll see Anthony rising in the ranks of jazz artists to take the world’s stage in the coming years.”
In contrast to his debut album Chronicles, Fung takes credit for the composition, arrangement and production of all eight tracks on Flashpoint. Having honed his craft under the tutelage of Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Chris Potter and Billy Childs, Fung now sets out on a new course to establish himself as more than a jazz drummer - he is excited to set the focus of this project to his new path as a composer, producer and bandleader. Although Flashpoint serves as a showcase for the fresh perspective Fung takes with this music, the compositional process for each of these tracks pays homage to his former tutors. Recalling the writing approach of these mentors, the inspiration for each of Fung’s tunes has been derived from an array of various mediums.
Flashpoint showcases Fung’s desire for social unity and change. Acting as a humanitarian for the music, the LA-based Canadian native has consciously brought together an international ensemble including Swedish bassist Mats Sandahl, French vibraphonist Simon Moullier, and Puerto Rican tenor saxophonist Edmar Colon. While “A Call For Peace” was written for Colon, in remembrance of the terrifying times he endured in Puerto Rico during Hurricane Maria, “The Flash” draws attention to “Tambor Norte” - a well-known Panamanian rhythm. Inspired by the Netflix series superhero known for his speedy run, Fung wrote this tune to incorporate the rhythm of Panamanian drums with a cinematic sound. “Forever” - a tune written about heartbreak and Fung’s favourite track of the album - is the bandleader’s first experience with lyric writing, while “St. Augustine and The Devil” highlights the drummer’s string writing. This track, featuring a lone string quartet, is inspired by a painting by Michael Pacher from the 1400’s.
DEE DEE McNEIL
"He didn’t disappoint as a drummer and even more impressive, as a composer. Fung already has released three full-length recordings as a bandleader, but this album pays tribute to his mentor’s mantra. Ralph Peterson always told him, “Onward and upward,” recalled Anthony Fung." For the full article click here.
"Drummer Anthony Fung showcases the cinematic side of his compositional style on “The Valley,” the opening track from Fo(u)rth, featuring Mark Turner, Michael Ragonses and Luca Alemanno. " Check out the full editors choice list here.
"Drummer Anthony Fung has put together a very dynamic album, featuring thrilling off-the-cuff improvisation that you will feast upon…" Check out the full review here.
JAMIE LEE RAKE
THE SHEPHERD EXPRESS
"...Anthony Fung leads his quartet on Fo(u)rth, in an often melancholic, sometimes wistful direction that nonetheless embodies the bold directive serving as the album's pun of a title; he's no longer on his third set leading an ensemble, after all." Check out the full review here.
For What Does It Mean To Be Free?
S. VICTOR AARON
"Canadian native Anthony Fung has been destined to be a major artist.." Read the complete review here.
"These nine tracks both demand and reward active listening, delivering a panoply of emotions that eschew easy answers in favor of more complicated truths." Read the review here.
THE WHOLE NOTE
"Fung's drums are propulsive and complex.." Read the complete review in the Summer 2022 issue of The Whole Note, here.
"Fung has an approach to composition that comfortably accommodates a variety of musical rhythms and styles, while keeping a clearly defined sense of melody, harmony and tempo – even if the wilder moments of the tunes.." Read the review here.
TAKE EFFECT REVIEWS
"Fung has a lengthy resume that includes being under the mentorship of Herbie Hancock and Danilo Perez, and his time at prestigious schools and worldly approach help make this body of work an exciting display of contemporary jazz greatness." Read this review here.
DEE DEE MCNEIL
"Here is a young, talented drummer and composer, winding his way up the jazzy stairway to the stars." Read the full review here.
"A solid set for those who would have loved to have more of these Miles explorations, this is an extension, not an homage." Read the full review here.
"A smart and searching drummer with an obvious grasp of the big picture..." Listen to the full track feature for "A Call For Peace (For Puerto Rico)" here.
"The composition and arranging skills of Anthony Fung are well highlighted on this strong and varied session." Read the full review here.
Part of the "50 records to listen to before checking out that Kind Of Blue remake. See the full list here.
Drummer Anthony Fung puts together here an impressive collection of originals that have one foot in the tradition with the other foot marching into the future. Read the full review here.