10 Songs, 51 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Like so many others, pianist Helen Sung didn’t plan to be a jazz musician. The Houston native studied classical until college, where either a Tommy Flanagan solo or a Harry Connick Jr. gig changed her life (stories vary). Here, on her sixth album (and first for the indie-major Concord), Sung is backed by a sextet, and she casts her net wide with a broad range of material. Her classical roots show in the intro to “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got that Swing)” and the elegant but brief “Equipoise.” Bringing a lightness to the proceedings, Sung and her percussionists (let’s hear it for handclaps!) are joined by the irrepressible Paquito d’Rivera for Chick Corea’s “Armando’s Rhumba.” Something of a head-scratcher are her references to Thelonious Monk—the original “Brother Thelonious” has a Jazz Messengers vibe to it, and her take on “Epistrophy” verges on soul-jazz. Yet it does grow on you. There are a handful of other originals as well, with the standout “Hidden” featuring Sung on the Fender Rhodes, a smoking solo from trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, and the violin of guest Regina Carter.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Like so many others, pianist Helen Sung didn’t plan to be a jazz musician. The Houston native studied classical until college, where either a Tommy Flanagan solo or a Harry Connick Jr. gig changed her life (stories vary). Here, on her sixth album (and first for the indie-major Concord), Sung is backed by a sextet, and she casts her net wide with a broad range of material. Her classical roots show in the intro to “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got that Swing)” and the elegant but brief “Equipoise.” Bringing a lightness to the proceedings, Sung and her percussionists (let’s hear it for handclaps!) are joined by the irrepressible Paquito d’Rivera for Chick Corea’s “Armando’s Rhumba.” Something of a head-scratcher are her references to Thelonious Monk—the original “Brother Thelonious” has a Jazz Messengers vibe to it, and her take on “Epistrophy” verges on soul-jazz. Yet it does grow on you. There are a handful of other originals as well, with the standout “Hidden” featuring Sung on the Fender Rhodes, a smoking solo from trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, and the violin of guest Regina Carter.

TITLE TIME
5:37
4:37
5:48
4:10
5:33
5:43
7:18
5:04
5:30
2:16

About Helen Sung

The winner of the 2007 Mary Lou Williams Piano Competition, pianist Helen Sung is an adroit improviser with a bent toward straight-ahead jazz and post-bop. A native of Houston, Texas, Sung studied classical piano growing up and attended Houston's High School for the Performing Arts before earning both undergraduate and graduate degrees in classical piano from the University of Texas at Austin. It was during her time in college that Sung became interested in jazz, and after graduating in 1995 she enrolled in the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance, which was then at Boston's New England Conservatory of Music. Eventually, Sung relocated to New York City. She has performed with a bevy of name artists including trumpeter Clark Terry, drummer Terri Lyne Carrington, saxophonist Wayne Shorter, trumpeter Jon Faddis, and many others, and performs regularly with the Mingus Big Band. On her own, she has released several albums, including 2004's Push, 2006's Helenistique, 2007's Sungbird (After Albeniz), and 2010's Going Express. In 2014, Sung delivered her first quintet album, Anthem for a New Day, featuring trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, saxophonist Seamus Blake, and others. ~ Matt Collar

  • ORIGIN
    Houston, TX
  • GENRE
    Jazz

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