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John Chin: Blackout Conception (2008)

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John Chin: Blackout Conception How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Pianist John Chin marks his recording debut with three originals and four other compositions that have made an impression on him. Chin, who turned to jazz as a teenager, went on to study under Kenny Barron at Rutgers University. While Barron's influence is present to an extent, Chin brings his own measure and intuition to bear in his playing. His ideas flow cohesively and he is as comfortable in letting them gush as he is in holding back and letting the music breathe.

Chin reworks Barron's "Joanne Julia" with a Latin beat. Mark Turner serves up the initial delight on his tenor saxophone with an instilled yearning, neatly turning his phrases around and finding a new avenue to probe. Chin extends the melodic line and moves briskly through it, going just enough off the path to add apt interjections. His two-handed approach stamps his sense of invention. With Bill Campbell (drums) and Alex Cuadrado (bass) injecting a lively rhythm into the pulse, this tune is top notch.

"Passion Flower" has been taken through several interpretations. Chin is economical and judicious without sacrificing feeling. In his cogent exposition, he delves into the mood, lets it surface and wraps its arms around the listener.

Chin is a composer of no mean proportion. "Blackout Conception" was inspired by the East Coast blackout of 2003. Chin moves across several parameters: he is jaunty; he injects a sense of urgency; and he brings in swing. The mood is in constant flux and constantly riveting. Turner's inflections are darker, as he gravitates to the core before spiraling upward and out with a big, brawny sound, all of which leads to a frenetic climax.

"I Won't Argue With You" brings a change of mood and tempo. Chin crafts the song well, and his playing is unhurried, with every note given its moment to shine. The mood dissolves as he rouses the tempo and infuses a throbbing center. He then pulls back and lets his left hand hammer out the chords, with the music carrying a vivid message.

Chin charts a bright course with Blackout Conception that augurs well for the future.


Track Listing: Blackout Conception; Joanne Julia; I Won't Argue With You; After Crash; Some Other Time; Lullaby; Passion Flower.

Personnel: John Chin: piano; Bill Campbell: drums; Mark Turner: tenor sax; Alexis Cuadrado: bass; Chris Higgins: bass.

Record Label: Fresh Sound New Talent

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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