Yuhan Su: A Room of One's Own

Mark Sullivan By

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Yuhan Su: A Room of One's Own
Vibraphonist/composer Yuhan Su says she wrote most of the songs on her second album in tiny piano practice rooms where she spent a great deal of time teaching. That's one part of the meaning of the album title. A Room of One's Own also refers to the Virginia Woolf essay of the same name, which explores the reasons why few women had written fiction, as well as any author's need for personal liberty to create art. A potentially heavy topic, but one Su and her band have no difficulty handling—and the sound they make is anything but ponderous.

"Amulet" opens the album, an engaging 12/8 tune with a gentle swing. "Valedicere I" adds atmospheric guitar sounds from Kenji Herbert to the texture, as well as featuring a solo from bassist Petros Klampanis. "No. 13 Waltz" is lullaby-like, with Su contributing gentle vocalise on the theme: the drums sit this one out. "I Do Not Always Understand What You Say. What Is, Is By Its Nature On Display I" again makes effective use of vocalise, this time with Su and Herbert joining Matt Holman's trumpet on the concluding theme. The addition of vocals on these tracks was inspired: just the right touch for this music.

Su plays the electronic malletKAT (a MIDI percussion mallet controller) on "Painter's Mind," a duet with drummer Nathan Ellman-Bell. The string and synthesizer guitar sounds she produces are a dramatic contrast to the rest of the program. There's real energy here, and not just of the electrical kind. It's certainly an approach worthy of further exploration. "Freezing Point" features an especially effective guitar solo, and "Anti-Hunger Song" provides an atmospheric closer.

Su makes a strong impression as composer and mallet player—it's not surprising that her Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to finance the album's completion was successful. None of her band members are household names, which just shows how deep the New York City jazz bench is. Jazz vibraphone fans should not miss this.

Track Listing

Amulet; Valedīcere I; Valedīcere II; Valedīcere III; No 13 Waltz; All Kinds of Dreams; I Do Not Always Understand What You Say. What Is, Is By It's Nature On Display I; I Do Not Always Understand What You Say. What Is, Is By It's Nature On Display II; Painter's Mind; Freezing Point; Anti-Hunger Song.


Yuhan Su: vibraphone, malletKAT (Track 9), vocals (Tracks 5, 7); Matt Holman: trumpet, flugelhorn; Kenji Herbert: guitar, vocals (Track 7); Petros Klampanis: acoustic bass; Nathan Ellman-Bell: drums.

Album information

Title: A Room of One's Own | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Inner Circle Music

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