Asian Improv Records (AIR) was founded in 1987 by musicians/activists Jon Jang and Francis Wong as a vehicle for Asian American composers/performers and their collaborators to release music to the public as leaders during the time of the emergence of the Asian American Consciousness Movement. Beginning with Jang’s landmark LP recording, The Ballad or the Bullet?, and in quick succession Glenn Horiuchi’s three LP releases in Next Step (1988), Issei Spirit (1988), and Manzanar Voices (1989), the label catalog has grown to over 100 titles, mostly in the CD format. Tatsu Aoki, AIR President since 1999, joined the label in 1994 with the CD Kioto. His own label Innocent Eyes and Lenses (IEL) then merged with AIR five years later. In addition, AIR has enjoyed an extremely productive collaboration co-releasing recordings with Bradley Parker-Sparrow’s and Joanie Palatto’s Southport Records.
AIR represents one of the largest catalogs of recorded work by Asian American composers/performers and their collaborators extant featuring veteran artists Jang, Aoki, Francis Wong, Chizuru Kineya, Miya Masaoka, Hafez Modirzadeh, William Roper, Vijay Iyer, Jason Kao Hwang, Wu Man, Jeff Song, Yoko Noge, Mark Izu, Anthony Brown, Brenda Wong Aoki, Genny Lim, Melody Takata, John-Carlos Perea, Mwata Bowden, David Murray, Ed Wilkerson Jr., Coco Elysses, JoVia Armstrong, Deszon X. Claiborne, Gary Brown, and Amanda Kemp ; legends who have joined the ancestors such as Fred Anderson, Max Roach, Affifi Phillard, and Glenn Horiuchi, and newer artists to the Asian Improv family such as Kioto Aoki, Tsukasa Taiko, Jeff Chan, Mai Sugimoto, Jason Finkelman, Joy Yang, Hitomi Oba, and Nick DePinna.