Francesca Han: Right Music, Right Time
Han's eight composition/improvisations have a distinctly contemporary feel, though stemming from jazz roots: "Green in Blue" has some relation with [pianist Bill Evans'] "Blue in Green," explains Han. "Also, "Why is This Thing Called Love" was based on "What is This Thing Called Love." But I didn't play heads on any of these tunes so I can change the titles. It was just improvised music."
Though Han has given classical piano recitals in the past the approach to Ascetic was something new: "This recording was the first time I'd played solo piano for two hours. It was very challenging and yet not impossible." It has been a highly rewarding experience for the pianist: "I have some very special memories of making this album," admits the pianist. "I am not satisfied with my more composed works, but there were some moments that I can't even remember what was consciously done. I think those moments were totally beautiful."
The experience of improvising and recording Ascetic has seemingly given Han even greater confidence to express herself: "After I recorded Ascetic I decided to play more solo piano concerts."
Both Illusion and Ascetic are out on Audioguy. The quality of the recordings is excellent, as is the attention to detail in the packaging of the CDs, so it's little wonder that Han is full of praise for the independent label: "They are very good people. It's not a big label but it has a good reputation for recording and mixing," says Han. "The cover designs look like a bit like ECM but Audioguy uses strong, unique color for its work. They believed in me on these projects and I really appreciate their work and concern."
After eight years acclimatizing to New York, it's little wonder that a certain amount of readjustment was needed on returning to Korea: "Adapting myself once more to Korean culture has been quite stressful," Han admits, "but it's getting better now." With plans to explore and adapt Korean traditional music Han will connect on a deeper level with her roots in a way she hadn't before and the prospect excites her.
There are a number of solo concerts coming up but beyond that Han is content just to go with the flow: "Maybe my plan is not having a plan," she says. "Music always comes to me without planning. I'd say just being myself at any time would be my plan."
Francesca Han, Ascetic (Audiouguy, 2012)
Francesca Han, Illusion (Audioguy, 2012)
Jeff Fairbank's Project Hansori, Mulberry Street (Brooklyn Jazz Underground Records, 2011)
Fung Chern Hwei, From the Heart (Kepong Boy Music, 2010)
Francesca Han, Francesca Han (MM Records, 2009)
Page 1: Courtesy of Francesca Han
Page 3: Michael Lee