Friday, June 03, 2011

Helen Sung - (re)Conception (Steeplechase, 2011)

Pianist and composer Helen Sung is one of the new vanguard of young musicians re-making the mainstream jazz firmament in her own way by re-interpreting standards and adding her own original repertoire to the mix. On this album, she performs in a trio setting, accompanied by the extraordinary rhythm section of Peter Washington on bass and Lewis Nash on drums, who have anchored many a great piano trio in the past, particularly with Tommy Flanagan. This album covers a wide range of classic jazz material from Duke Ellington’s ebullient “C-Jam Blues” which the group has a lot of fun, with to the angularity of Thelonious Monk’s “Teo.” There is only one Sung original, “Duplicity,” and that ably shows her conception of the music and the trio format. She has a light and flowing touch on the keyboard, sounding quite natural and graceful, and especially drawn to melodic improvisation. Washington and Nash are of course superb, whether playing straight-ahead rhythm or pushing and pulling the music in subtly different directions. Fans of mainstream piano trios should find much to enjoy here, the music is light, accessible and quite capably performed. Her re-conception of standard and mainstream material works well, and will be appreciated by aficionados of the piano trio or the modern-mainstream in jazz. (re)Conception -

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