Although Asian Americans had been performing jazz music almost since that music's inception, it was not until the late 20th century when a distinctly Asian-American brand of jazz began to develop. Gabe Baltazar and Paul Togawa were early jazz musicians established in the 1950s Los Angeles jazz scene. In the 1970s and early 1980s, West Coast musicians such as Gerald Oshita, Glenn Horiuchi, Anthony Brown, Jon Jang, Mark Izu, and Russel Baba, as well as New Yorkers like Fred Ho and Jason Kao Hwang, began to create a hybrid music that was reflective of their ancestral heritages and experiences as Asian Americans, but which was at the same time also rooted in jazz, a music of African American origin. Most of the first musicians associated with the movement were of Japanese or Chinese ancestry, though more recently musicians of Filipino, Vietnamese, and Indian descent have also become active.
Often, Asian-American jazz combines standard jazz instruments with Asian instruments (such as taiko, shamisen, erhu, suona, or kulintang), which are often performed by musicians from Asia. Also, they may play jazz instruments in a manner imitative of Asian instruments. Many Asian-American jazz ensembles also include musicians who are not of Asian descent.
Of particular significance to the development and promotion of the movement are the San Francisco Asian-American Jazz Festival (1981-2006) and the Asian Improv record label, as well as the Chicago Asian-American Jazz Festival begun by Chicago musician Tatsu Aoki.
One of the first and most prominent Asian-American jazz bands is the Japanese Americanfusion jazz band Hiroshima, which was formed in 1974. In 2000, Anthony Brown's Asian American Orchestra received a Grammy nomination for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Performance for their recording of Ellington-Strayhorn's Far East Suite.
Musicians associated with the Asian-American jazz movement