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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.

John Chin is another new piano face, rightly placed on Fresh Sound's New Talent division. Born in Seoul, South Korea, but educated in California at Cal State and then the University of North Texas, he then relocated to New York to study with pianist Kenny Barron at Rutgers University in New Jersey. A major portion of Blackout Conception is influenced and dedicated to the Philadelphia pianist.

In a baseball setting Chin Music refers to a brushback pitch intended to keep hitters back away from home plate. In jazz parlance, the same expression has a much more positive connotation, which emphasizes the music of this significant new face.

Chin proves his ability as a writer, interpreter and player. An important aspect of Blackout Conception is the presence of Mark Turner, who provides a stimulus for John Chin with his probing tenor sax on much of the album. As he has done on his own Warner Brothers albums, with the cooperative group Fly, and on many sideman sessions, Turner is always there with a firm yet lyrical hand.

Chin begins his first ballad, "I Won't Argue With You," as a trio track sans Turner, soloing with a sure-fisted and effective manner. In the liner notes, Chin not only credits Miles Davis as an influence, but most of the trumpeter's pianists, including Wynton Kelly, Bill Evans, Herbie Hancock and Keith Jarrett, references easily discernable here. Perhaps there is a free jazz side to this young pianist, but it is not easy to spot.

After rejoining with Turner for "After Crash," Chin spins another trio setting for Bernstein, Comden & Green's "Some Other Time," beautifully interpreted in the style of Keith Jarrett's Standards Trio. Another ballad, Billy Strayhorn's "Passion Flower," is more ruminative tribute, not only to the composer but to Kenny Barron's teaching style.

The album is broken up into several musical interests and formats. With the opening tune and Barron's "Joanne Julia," which is performed as a light bossa, Chin and Turner—supported by drummer Bill Campbell and either Alexis Cuadrado or Chris Higgins on bass—lock in tightly for a solid twenty minutes. The full quartet deliver another Barron original, "Lullaby," sandwiched by Chin's trio takes of "Some Other Time" and "Passion Flower."

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 (1, 2, 4, 6); Alexis Cuadrado: bass (1, 3, 4, 6, 7); Chris Higgins: bass (2, 5).

Record Label: Fresh Sound New Talent

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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