Julian Chan speaks to me

April 30, 2014

Julian Chan is an eloquent, intelligent young man who loves gadgets and social media in perhaps equal measure, for the two are in this day and age increasingly interdependent, and so he seems to be always in the front line of both. He has found his voice on the net; he points out social injustices, polices rule-breakers on his facebook page, updates on his work, comments on funny memes and engages in friendly banter with his mates.

And when I speak to him, I find that he weighs his words carefully and his answers are never superficial. Often, they are focused and on point.

But it is onstage that he is clearest. Where he does not talk.



I first met Julian 8 years ago I thought he was naturally talented and technically sound, but he lacked the depth, range and consistency that would only come to musicians in their later years, and his improvisations suspect. Jazz is not easy – though he was already an accomplished musician – I worried for him, as I do for all young musicians, listening intently for avoid notes or errant pitches or solos they couldn’t get out of. Today when Julian’s saxophone speaks it portrays its wielder a man who is mature and confident in his craft, and when I listen I could only imagine the hard work and the experiences he went through to get to this point.

Jazz to me is a state of a high not unlike the effects of hard drugs. At its height, a wave of euphoria hits you, and at once engulfs you in an indescribable bliss, sometimes trance-induced paralysis, often gut wrenching, often almost unbearable.

When Julian speaks onstage he produces rich and assuring chords & scales that, as it builds up, you anticipate that aural moment akin to watching an injection getting closer to the arm. As he speaks, raw emotions swell up and just then, hell breaks loose.