Hanjin: Raw Jazz (2009)
With this album of vocal standards accompanied by a rhythm trio, Hanjin climbs the ladder of contemporary male jazz singers and ranks up there with the all-time best. Wordless scat singing that oozes rhythm, convincing lyric interpretations with laid-back attitude, a fine sense of humor that sparkles, and vocal acrobatics that very few will attempt give this memorable performance a boost. He's unforgettable.
Originally from Singapore, Hanjin is known throughout Southeast Asia and China for his unique delivery and creative imagination as applied to singing and songwriting. He sings this program of familiar songs in English with the flexible range of a tenor that is extended into falsetto and enhanced by his mouth trumpet impressions. It takes plenty of conditioning to get one's lips to vibrate without the aid of a mouthpiece in imitation of a trumpet soloist. The limited version of "Wave" as depicted on Hanjin's web site gives a sample of his confident crooner voice as well as his unique trumpet style.
The program includes peppy romps, tender ballads, and rhythmic charmers. A slow and deliberate "Skylark" with piano only, a dramatic West Side Story feeling injected into "That Old Black Magic" and memories of Fats Waller that emanate from Hanjin's interpretation of "Honeysuckle Rose" stand out for their directional differences. His occasional "trumpet" solos and his casual scat singing balance the eloquent lyric delivery that this vocalist values dearly. Closing the session with Chick Corea's "Spain," Hanjin explores vocalese with his band and leaves reminders along the way of how effective a jazz singer can be when he turns it loose. Just call him the "Al Jarreau" from Singapore.
Track Listing: Sweet Lorraine; Wave; Honeysuckle Rose; Cheek to Cheek; That Old Black Magic; Moody's Mood for Love; Skylark; I've Got You Under My Skin; A Foggy Day; The Nearness of You; Spain.
Personnel: Hanjin: vocals, guitar; Jason Cheng: piano; Paul Candelaria: electric bass; Skip Moy: guitar.
Record Label: Self Produced