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Alex Han: Embracing The Spirit

Liz Goodwin By

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"There's a lot that I've learned from Marcus, in terms of how to conduct business and how to really engage with your bandmates. One of the best things that I've ever seen is just how efficient Marcus is with how he conducts business and how well-mannered he is when he is conducting rehearsals and dealing with different kinds of music and different kinds of music personalities—whatever it may be. He knows how to get things done," he says emphatically. He is extremely generous and thoughtful. I mean, he's working like a mad dog and he's got like, 20 million things that he has to handle, but he remains very generous. He's become like a second father to me, and his wife, Brenda, has been like a second mother to me."

Han grew up listening to Michael Jackson, vocal superstar Peter Cetera, former lead singer of the hit rock group Chicago, and Disney Movie soundtracks long before falling in love with not only the music of saxophone legends Julian "Cannonball" Adderley; Charlie Parker; Benny Carter; and Paquito D'Rivera, (a great friend), but also more recent talents such as saxmen Kenny Garrett; Marcus Strickland; Chris Potter; and Michael Brecker, to name just a few. But once the jazz bug bit, he was smitten. It is exactly this eclecticism that informs the equally diverse rhythms and pulse of Spirit.

"When it came to this music, I wanted this to be the kind of album that would be accessible to people so that they could appreciate it and give instrumental music a chance, without getting too cerebral with it," he says, sounding understandably concerned about the overall public's perception of its ever-changing definition and concept of jazz.

"I didn't want to get too cerebral with it because a lot of jazz, as we know, is brilliant to those who understand it but not everybody understands it, so I wanted to give it some depth and obviously show some technical ability—those were sort of the two elements that I was balancing. I wanted to show and play jazz music that can bring about some good feeling and emotion, but also engage you from a more technical standpoint. There can be some really cool stuff in all kinds of music but sometimes you can lose people. I think that I found a happy balance with this album."

Ever thoughtful and committed to his faith his God, Han is adamant about his belief that there is more to music than just the music itself—a point of view that is never out of focus from his spiritual lens.

"For me, as an artist, he asserts, "it's important to show that there's something above our heads, that is, God. There's a higher order and a higher structure of things that allows us to experience something as wonderful as music. Music doesn't just come from nothingness, you know, it comes from a source, as does everything. It's not just random chance. Hopefully, my music gives some way of reminding people that there is something above our heads. And I hope to express this sentiment for future albums to come."

Photo credit: Siebe van Ineveld

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